AFC Rushden & Diamonds manager Mark Starmer wished Ashington well but left Woodhorn Lane despondent after being ‘gutted’ by Saturday’s injury time defeat in the FA Vase.
He described his side’s 2-1 loss as being a ‘cruel blow’ after Andrew Johnson had scored a last ditch winner for the Colliers at a vocal Woodhorn Lane ground.
Starmer said: “We’re really gutted because it was a cruel blow in the last minute.”
Starmer thought referee Shaun Hudson’s decision to show defender Jake Gillingwater a red card five minutes into the second period for a foul on Johnson was harsh.
“I don’t think the referee helped the game, if I’m honest, because the ball was in the car park when Gillingwater has made contact with the Ashington player,” he said.
“It was harsh – it was a booking because he has caught him, but it wasn’t a goalscoring opportunity.”
Starmer was pleased by his side’s attitude after they trailed as early as the eighth minute.
“After the goal Ashington scored, we responded well and played some decent football,” he said.
“We got a good equaliser from a set piece and it looked as if it was going to be a good game second half.
“It was backs to the wall for us after Jake Gillingwater was sent off – I admit that – but we kept together and man for man we’ve been outstanding today.
“We kept it going and deserved something.
“From my point of view it’s a cruel blow, but I wish Ashington well in the next round – good luck to them – whilst we’ll concentrate on the league from now on.”