By Brian Bennett
Ashington FC’s match winner Ben Harmison marked his first ever appearance in the Emirates FA Cup by scoring the all important goal in the extra preliminary round as the Colliers edged out visitors Sunderland Ryhope CW 1-0 at Woodhorn Lane on Saturday.
Harmison’s effort broke the deadlock in the 43rd minute of a tight fought contest and afterwards, he said: “It was good to get a win and a clean sheet. It was backs against the wall at the end because we fell into last seasons mentality of sitting back. However, it also played into our hands a little bit as James Harmison, Craig Scott and myself were quite happy to eat up all the long balls. We hit the post twice in the first half and Tom [Wade] and Steve [Harmison] said at the end of the game that with a bit more composure on the ball, we would have won more comfortably.” He continued: “I was happy with my own performance and it’s good when you have got pace from the likes of Callum Johnston and Lee McAndrew who run past you then you’ve got the chance of either flicking the ball on, or holding it up. My game is trying to be a handful; to win things and bring other people in to play.” Harmison was delighted with his goal: “Jay Hornsby’s ball in from the corner was excellent,” he said, “The centre halves don’t try to watch the ball any more - they try to cuddle you and put you off and that’s what happened. The defender lost track of the ball, I got in front of him and was naturally pleased to score.” With Ashington Cricket Club, the defending champions of the Go North East Northumberland & Tyneside Senior League, out of contention in a bid to retain the title, Harmison – skipper at the Langwell Crescent club - decided to turn his attentions from cricket to football: “Cricket wise – and with no disrespect to Ryton whom we were playing on Saturday – we can’t really win the league,” he said, “I’m enjoying my football and Steve [Harmison] asked if I could help them out. I played cricket for Ashington last year when the footballers lost 2-1 against Nelson and obviously the years before that I was cricketing with Durham and Kent.” He went on: “Consequently, I had never played in an FA Cup game before and wanted to break the mould. I was determined to help us get into the next round - which we achieved - and as long as we’re winning then I’m happy.”