“I though the lads did themselves proud” – Middleton

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ASHINGTON CFC manager Gary Middleton emerged from the dressing rooms following his side’s slender 1-0 victory over Norton And Stockton Ancients in the FA Carlsberg Vase – and was delighted for his players, following a tough week.

Middleton said: “We knew it was going to be a tough and a tight affair against Norton which it proved.

“I thought there wasn’t much between the sides in the first half apart from the Phill Bell chance for us whilst they have a had a heading opportunity – but it was pretty even.

“I felt we were knocking on the door first half after we got into some good areas but things just didn’t come off. Nevertheless I was quite pleased with the first 45 minutes.

He continued: “I thought we were terrific second half. We just upped the tempo a little bit and it was a great ball in by James Taylor and a fantastic finish from Jonny Godsmark for what proved to be the winning goal.

“I’m thrilled to bits for Godsmark because he’s playing in a good range of form at the minute and it was nice for him to get another goal.

“We had a lot of play but the play moved from end to end and then they have had a couple of chances including one where Karl (Dryden) has pulled off a decent save.

“Yes, we always wanted that second goal but in the end I thought we were good value for our 1-0 win and it was an excellent performance after the last two games.”

Middleton singled out several of his squad and is excited about the Phill Bell-Jonny Godsmark partnership up front: “There were some marvellous displays out there today,

“On his return, Phill Bell was fantastic working tirelessly.

“He was unfortunate with the opportunity which he missed but he gives the team 120 per cent.

“If we can get Bell and Godsmark to work together, it’ll be a great combination – ultimately it looked a good one today – because they looked a threat all the time.

“I thought James Taylor was outstanding in the middle of the park as was Mark O’Dea who I thought had his best game for a long time, but I’m just thrilled for all the players because it’s been a tough week and that was a tough game against a good, well organised Norton side and I thought the lads did themselves proud.”