'˜We have set ourselves a benchmark' '“ Harmison
Ashington FC manager Steve Harmison was relieved that his side finally managed to bring a run of eight successive defeats to an abrupt halt with a deserved 4-1 victory over West Allotment Celtic at Woodhorn Lane on Saturday.
The boss identified elementary mistakes as being an unwanted recurring theme over the past few weeks.
But after finally breaking the sequence, he said that his side had set themselves a benchmark for the rest of the campaign, which includes a tough run-in of fixtures.
However, a smiling Harmison revealed that the postponement of the Shildon game coupled to a frank exchange with the players in training had come up trumps on Saturday.
He said: “Our victory has ended the run, and although it might sound ironic, it’s a performance which came from last Saturday when our game was called off.
“The lads trained well and with a high intensity on Saturday, Tuesday and Thursday, and it’s no coincidence that when you train well and prepare well you win matches.
“I had a chat with a couple of the players before the game and there were some harsh words exchanged on Tuesday night, and what came out of it all was that the dressing room was still not a bad little place to be despite what was going wrong.
“It wasn’t the best free flowing football contest against West Allotment Celtic , but when you are in a run like we were, you are not interested in that, you just want to find a way to win and we did that.
“We got a bit of luck and rub of the green with the opening goal by Lee Scott because the ball bounced his way, and also with Conor Grant’s penalty save at 3-1.
“We hadn’t been horrendous in the run of defeats, we made elementary mistakes which cost us goals, and the ball wasn’t bouncing for us, but we had a good week preparing and this has stood us in good stead.
“Now it’s important that we continue in the same way and continue to work hard, but at the same time we haven’t got to get carried away.”
Harmison picked out the goal by James Taylor as being the highlight of the afternoon:.
“James Taylor and Andrew Bulford both scored good goals today,” he added.
“The move for Taylor’s strike was excellent and I thought that was the highlight of the game.
“We are poor starters and what the management team collectively did at half-time was to have a go at the players and tell them they had to hit the ground running for the first five-to-ten minutes of the second half in order to make the last ten to 15 minutes easier for themselves.
“Again Jake Trodd was excellent in a back four which functioned very well, and it was good to see Taylor on the pitch.
“We have got to remember that he has been out of the game for over a year and he struggled for fitness for the second half of the first period.
“We were desperate to get him back out after the interval, then all of a sudden, his wonder goal gave him a bit of a lift, which gave him extra legs.
“This resulted in him being on the pitch for an extra ten minutes, and he did well before we took him off.
“Overall I was pleased with the effort and the result, but the players have got to make sure this is the benchmark for where we go from here.
“We have got some tough games coming up ... we get ourselves right for the forthcoming programme.”