Ashington’s Andrew Johnson cannot wait for Tuesday night’s semi-final clash against Newton Aycliffe in the Brooks Mileson Memorial League Cup at Woodhorn Lane (March 31).
Losing to South Shields via a penalty shoot-out at Dunston’s Federation ground five years ago is still firmly etched at the forefront of Johnson’s mind.
As is bowing out to Marske United in last season’s semi-final.
“To get through and hopefully to win the competition, and to finish our league programme in mid-table, would make our season not as horrendous as what it could have been,” he said.
“We are on the crest of a wave at the moment, but it’s the old cliché of taking one game at a time.
“We have got good momentum going into the semi-final clash, and the progress we have made in the cup has kept our season alive.
“It gives us something to look forward too, and with wins in our last three games pretty much securing safety in the league, we should be more relaxed.”
Johnson recalled the May Bank Holiday defeat to South Shields: “I scored early on but to lose the final in the way we did after leading twice was bitterly disappointing.
“We had already suffered at the hands of Whitley Bay in the final of the Northumberland Senior Cup, which made the League Cup defeat worse, and it still hurts.”
The 27-year-old, a project officer for the Newcastle United Foundation, has urged the Woodhorn Lane faithful to generate a noisy atmosphere, as they did at Penrith’s Frenchfield Park on Saturday.
He added: “It would be great to have a bumper crowd, and hopefully at the same time our supporters can have an input by creating an atmosphere to spur the lads on, which is really appreciated.
“At Penrith there were more Ashington fans than home supporters and it was brilliant for the lads.”
Manager Steve Harmison endorsed Johnson’s comments: “I’d like to thank the fans for their support at Penrith and hopefully we can give them a trophy come the end of the season.
“Today they were fantastic with the noise they created, so much so that the players could not hear us from the touchline.
“That kind of atmosphere gives you a lot, of which we were thankful, and as much as I can praise my players to the hilt, when it’s 0-0 and 1-0, the little bit of drive from the fans gives us that extra yard which we will need.”
He continued: “We’ve got to be looking forward to it and got to have confidence going into the cup tie now.
“There are no points on board for this one and the winner gets to a final, and that would be fantastic for the players.
“They have had some tough times in the months leading up to this, and what they have got to remember and make sure on Tuesday is to do their jobs properly.
“If they do that, as well as the simple things which they have been doing well of late, we will give Newton Aycliffe a fantastic game.”
Kick-off is 7.45pm. Meanwhile Dunston host Shildon in the other semi-final.