Middleton praises ‘team performance’

ASHINGTON CFC manager Gary Middleton hailed his players after they came from behind to claim a merited 2-1 victory over Dunkirk on Saturday and consequently book there place in the fourth round of the FA Carlsberg Vase.

A long trip to near Northampton on Saturday, January 22, is the reward for the Colliers where they will take on Long Buckby, members of the Hereward Teamwear United Counties League premier division.

The Woodhorn Lane boss, reflecting on what was an historic afternoon in Nottingham said: “I thought we started the game well.

“Jonny Godsmark had a good chance in the first five minutes and Stephen Young had a great opportunity.

“The game settled down and they came back into it more, looking dangerous at set plays, and unfortunately five minutes before the interval they scored the opener.

“It was difficult at half-time because we came in after having been probably the better team in the first 45 minutes.

“But a goal down, we told them to stick with it and continue to keep using the wide areas where I thought we created lots and lots of problems through Godsmark and Andrew Johnson all game.

“And we scored early doors after half-time with a great finish from Blandford.

“The game was then very evenly poised and Dunkirk continued to press and look dangerous on the break with there top three threatening wide areas.

“However, I thought James Taylor and Darren Lough stuck to the task as well as Iain Nickalls and Liam Atkin and we got a deserved penalty with 20 minutes to go which Phill Bell stuck away fantastically well – he was very, very cool.”

The boss added: “After that, it wasn’t a case of us hanging on – they were obviously going to throw everything at us but we continued to defend well and continued to hit them on the break, and I thought over the 90 minutes it was a deserved win, against a very good side.”

Middleton refused to single any one player for special mention.

“We said at ten minutes to three that it would be a team performance today, and I think the players proved that.

“There probably wasn’t anyone who stood out. I thought every one of the players stuck with it and whatever task they had to do, they carried it out very well.”