Middleton looking to end 33-year wait for Senior Cup success

Ashington CFC manager Gary Middleton has admitted that his side face a tough test when they meet neighbours Whitley Bay in the final of the Northumberland Senior Cup at St James’ Park on Wednesday, May 1.

Nevertheless the Colliers boss has pledged that his outfit will be pulling out all of the stops as they try to bridge a 33-year gap since the club last lifted the trophy in the 1979-80 season.

On that occasion they triumphed 4-2 over Heaton Stannington in a replay at Appleby Park – the former home of North Shields.

Middleton said: “This is a great opportunity for us to win something.

“We have had an indifferent season which has been up and down, but on Wednesday we can end the campaign on a real high – so I really hope we do.”

Middleton acknowledged the enormity of the task but is backing his own group of players.

He added: “It’s always a tough game against Whitley Bay.

“We have shared the spoils this season after we beat them 3-1 at Hillheads and they won 2-1 at Woodhorn Lane.

“But they also beat us three years ago in the Senior Cup final, so it’s all to play for.

“On the night we need big performances and our players playing to their potential – and if we can do that then there is no reason why we can’t end up with the trophy.”

Middleton added: “I have a lot of respect for Whitley Bay because they are a club dear to my heart.

“I had two three-to-four-year spells as a player under managers Bobby Graham and Andy Gowens, and I know everyone at the club.

“I also have the utmost respect for their manager Ian Chandler for what he has done as both a player and a manager – but on the night my lads we will be doing their best to bring the Northumberland Senior Cup back to Woodhorn Lane.”