Middleton wants fifth place finish for Ashington

ASHINGTON CFC manager Gary Middleton will demand one final push from his squad when the Colliers take on STL Northern League title contenders West Auckland at Woodhorn Lane on Saturday.

Middleton, his assistant Neil Winskill along with coach Richie Bond, have seen the Colliers occupy sixth place in the league table, but Whitley Bay’s defeat against West Auckland in midweek coupled to Ashington’s 2-1 victory over Billingham Synthonia has opened the door for the Wansbeck side to leapfrog the Seahorses and secure fifth spot.

Middleton said: “We set our lads a target of seven points from our final three games.

“We got one at Penrith, three against Synners and if we were to get another three on Saturday, which would take us into fifth place, that would be an excellent achievement – and secure our highest league finish in three seasons since we came to the club.”

The manager knows that West will clinch the championship with victory – but he will deflect the title issue away from his side and instead focus his attentions on one aim.

“We know it’s going to be a really difficult game against a team wanting to win the league,” he said.

“But we are more than capable of getting three points – just as we did against Dunston and Spennymoor.

“It will certainly not be a question of us having nothing to play for.

“We want to go out on a high, with a win which would see us cement fifth spot and then the lads could enjoy the summer.

“The other aspect is that the players need to perform and do a professional job, not only for themselves and the club but also for Jason Ainsley and Billy Irwin, the respective managers of Spennymoor and Dunston – the other two teams in the championship race.

“However, the game is about Ashington for me – and I want another victory, that’s for sure.”

Middleton has to reckon without midfielder Andrew Johnson through injury whilst Andrew Dugdale and Mark O’Dea both face fitness checks ahead of the 3pm kick-off.