By Brian Bennett
Ashington FC joint manager Steve Harmison said he was “pretty pleased with the outcome” after his side had recorded a 4-1 victory over Penrith at Woodhorn Lane on Tuesday night.
Ben Harmison tucked away a second minute penalty then Callum Johnston struck twice, either side of the interval. Adam Main pulled one back on 85 minutes before sub Tony Stephenson added a controversial fourth for the Colliers in stoppage time. Harmison said afterwards: “It was a difficult game because of the conditions but I thought we deserved to win. Our pitch is still rock hard, the ball is bouncing up and when you have got a wind like that to contend with it is difficult to get the ball under control. I was impressed by them [Penrith] but we were quite clinical. It was good play which led to what was a stonewall penalty and then they fell asleep for the second goal. It was excellent work by Ben Harmison and a great finish by Callum Johnston and all of a sudden from playing against the wind and trying to stay solid, we were 2-0 up. Then it was a case of them having to break us down – and we have proved this season that we are a difficult side to break down.” He continued: “After going 3-0 up early in the second half, I thought we got sloppy and it’s very difficult when you take your foot off the gas to put it back on and get to the pace which you had before. We made a couple of substitutions to protect players but would have liked Johnston – who got injured - to have got a few more minutes and would have liked to have taken Ben Harmison off because he was out on his feet. We slipped up a little bit but that is the next step for us to make sure we are on our game for 90 minutes.” He went on: “It was pleasing to see Shaun Bell return following his broken nose whilst David Edwards dropped out because the matches are coming thick and fast and he hasn’t had a pre season because of cricket commitments. He’s had two decent games for us and worked hard so we decided to give him a break tonight because Shaun [Bell] was available and hopefully we might have Bell for the next couple of games which is always a bonus. Jay Hornsby - a lad who started the season very well and who like Callum Johnston and Ben Sampson is only 18 years old - came on and did really well. He produced a fantastic cross for the fourth goal which deserved a goal itself and that should do his confidence the world of good. We got a chance to protect Paul Antony who has had a decent work rate over the last few weeks and Ben Christensen got through 90 minutes which was another positive. All in all we were pretty pleased by the outcome and result on a night where the conditions were horrendous. There is still a little bit to work on in the middle – but that is being ultra critical.” Harmison had some complimentary words for the Cumbrians: “They didn’t have really too many clear cut chances and we kept them to minimal efforts,” he said, “They played some lovely football and were unlucky to be 2-0 down at half time. From where I was, the goal at the end by Stephenson looked like a blatant handball and although you don’t want to see lads being booked [Penrith duo Christopher Wraighte and William Paul were both yellow carded], you can see why players get frustrated. Having said that, it was irrelevant because the game was well and truly over by then.”