By Brian Bennett
Ashington FC joint manager Steve Harmison lauded praise on his entire playing squad after they had picked up their third win of the season from four outings with a late win against Bishop Auckland at Heritage Park on Wednesday night.
Steve’s brother Ben settled what was an entertaining contest, scoring the all important goal in the 89th minute. An ecstatic Harmison said afterwards: “That’s as good a feeling as you’ll get in football because it was a perfect win. We have travelled an hour and a half up the road in midweek to play on a big pitch and it’s about attitude, effort and a desire to win a game. Bishops haven’t started the season as well as they would have liked but they are a very good side and will be in the top eight in the table – of that I have no doubt whatsoever. They played some nice football in front of us – but we again looked solid at the back. We had 14 players who took part in that game tonight - and affected it. We scored right at the very end and you cannot ask for any more than that.” He continued: “In the games we have won so far, we have spoken about having a little bit more composure – and that applied again tonight but as long as we are solid, that goes a long way. I remember when I first came into the job when we kept clean sheets and didn’t look like conceding – nor scoring either for that matter.” On the first half showing, Harmison said: “I thought we were too far away from Ben Harmison and I don’t think we picked up the second ball until the last ten minutes which was a concern. On the other hand you cannot worry too much when you come to Bishop Auckland and use almost your full squad with the exception of Shaun Henderson who was unlucky. He was at work last week and Ben Christensen has done well. It was similar to what happened last year when Ben was away on holiday and Shaun got in and never looked back. When you come into a team which are confident and working hard for each other you have to do the same – and that’s what the substitutes did tonight. I was also pleased for Tony Stephenson, Lee McAndrew and Kyle Downey who were caught between a rock and a hard place in the first half but they got more of a foothold second half. Paul Antony and Ben Sampson picked a lot of second balls up in our area but we just didn’t pick enough up off the big fella (Ben Harmison).” Harmison then acknowledged the current form and part being played by his brother James: “The clearance off the line at the end by James was phenomenal and to be fair deserved to win the game for us,” he said, “For someone who has played as many seasons in this league, I reckon James is playing as good as he has for the last four or five years. James and Wayne Buchanan were solid at the back and the young kids are enjoying playing their football with the older players because they are getting educated in the game in the Northern League.” He went on: “I thought we should have had one, possibly two penalties tonight whilst they [Bishop Auckland] will argue that we should have had Jay Hornsby sent off. Bishops played some lovely football but we got the ball in the net and that was the difference.” Harmison cast his eyes to Saturday’s mouth-watering FA Cup preliminary round clash when he takes his side to Meadow Park to face Sunderland RCA: “Craig Scott comes back into the squad whilst Shaun Bell and Ryan Bell are both ruled out,” he said, “We gave Callum Johnston a break tonight because he has used a lot of energy up whilst Lee McAndrew was rested last weekend. Tony Stephenson ran his race on Saturday and worked hard tonight but we have got replacements to come on and change things. I was pleased for Dale Pearson who made the run which led to the winning goal because he has probably had to be patient the longest along with Luke Salmon but they both came on and did really well. There are some decisions to be made for Saturday and the selection of the side could be a challenge.”