Ashington boss Gary Middleton – having seen his side demolish Crook Town with a 7-3 victory in their final league game of the season – must now wait to see what their final placing will be.
The Colliers are currently fifth but Vase finalists West Auckland are only three points behind them with seven games left to play whilst Dunston are in seventh place six points adrift of Ashington but with three games remaining. However Middleton - sounding a little hoarse whilst giving his post match comments - could not conceal his delight at the overall situation.
“It was a fantastic performance to end our league programme tonight,” he said, “I thought we were in control of the game from start to finish but took our foot off the pedal for ten minutes in the first half and let them back in with a goal. We then didn’t start the second half particularly well but apart from that I thought some of our attacking play was extremely good and with no disrespect to Crook we could have hit double figures bearing in mind some of the opportunities that we missed.”
He continued: “It was a goal fest but you can only beat what is in front of you and give Crook their due, they never stopped and went right until the end and were always a threat going forward.”
Middleton singled out utility player James Taylor for special mention.
“Looking at performances, I thought James Taylor was absolutely outstanding again,” he said,
“He did everything which was required of him despite facing difficult conditions of a hard and bobbly pitch - but he won his headers, passed the ball well and his positional play was spot on so he was man of the match for me without question.”
Having amassed 77 points, Ashington equalled their final tally of two seasons ago, when they finished fifth but Middleton pointed to the wider picture and is clearly upbeat as he outlined having to overcome ‘situations’.
“I’m over the moon with the way we have finished our league programme on a high and with 77 points which is a fantastic achievement from the players,” he said.
“But with the situations we have had to overcome this season – and you would need two hands to count them - other teams would have struggled given the same circumstances and I think I need to remind people about this. So whether we finish fifth, sixth or seventh, it’s a fantastic total to have.”
Ashington’s performance was totally convincing against Crook but with the League Cup semi-final against Marske just around the corner, did Middleton’s players have one eye on the possibility of silverware.
“Definitely not,” said the boss, emphatically. “I mentioned to the lads before they went out that they had to concentrate and try and get the game won against Crook - and only after that to think about the semi final. I wanted them to end the league programme on a high – and they did that in style.”