Ashington’s rematch against title hopefuls Shildon at Woodhorn Lane this Saturday has left manager Steve Harmison baffled – even if it presents his side with a second bite of the cherry.
The Colliers went down 2-1 against the Railwaymen in October but it later emerged that the Durham side had fielded a player who did not haveInternational clearance.
The case went in front of the management committee of the Ebac Northern League who ordered that the game should be expunged and be replayed.
The Colliers boss said: “The Shildon clash presents us with an interesting situation because our last two performances have not been up to the standard of the previous seven or eight were when we were on that little unbeaten run and we need to get back to having a feel-good factor and a winning mentality.
“Shildon are not a bad team to play in the respect that we will have to be at the top of our game against one of the best sides in the league.
“However, I still can’t get my head around why it is being replayed.
“They beat us fair and square 2-1 - but it could end up that Shildon come out of the replay better off than where they were.”
He continued: “I go back to last season in the League Cup semi finals when we won but were consequently expelled for playing an ineligible player and only this week in Spain, there’s a competition where one of the biggest teams in the world – Real Madrid - have been banned for playing an ineligible player.
“I do not think for one minute that Shildon knew anything about the International clearance but I find it very surprising why we are replaying the game without any punishment on them.”
He went on: “From our point of view, it’s probably the game we need to really come back.
“I think we perform better against good teams - we rise to the challenge - and we will have a good go at them just like we did in the original fixture.
“If we do that - and coupled with a bit of luck and rub of the green - we might edge a victory.
“We have had some time off as we go into this game and the players will hopefully adopt a better mindset.”
Scott Blandford, James Harmison, James Taylor and Dylan Williamson remain sidelined but boss Harmison added: “On one hand, the consecutive postponements against North Shields and Penrith, has helped us but on the other it has hindered us as we look to get the two games against North Shields and
Seaham out of our system.
“It’s probably like the managers at the top level heading into an International break – if you win the game before the break you don’t want it; if you lose then you want it in order to return to a feel good factor.”
Saturday’s clash at Woodhorn Lane has a 3pm kick-off.
Next Wednesday Harmison will take his outfit to North Tyneside where they will face North Shields in a quarter final clash of the Techflow Group Northumberland Senior Cup.