By Brian Bennett
Ashington FC joint manager Steve Harmison saw his side go down to their first defeat in five matches with a 3-0 reverse against Dunston UTS at Woodhorn Lane on Saturday.
And the boss said afterwards that the deciding factor came just after the half hour mark when Luke Salmon fouled Liam Thear with Dunston striker Mark Fitzpatrick tucking away the resultant spot kick. A disappointed Harmison said afterwards: “It all hinged on the penalty. Up until then we were in no trouble at all against a very strong wind. It was a rash moment from Luke. There wasn’t much created throughout and we’ve conceded three sloppy goals. Dunston played well for the second - but some of our positional play wasn’t great and everything we said to the lads at half time about not panicking and to get away from hitting straight balls into the box happened. Our game management has been questioned the past two or three weeks now and is something which we are consistently getting wrong. Instead of going too gung-ho, we need to get the ball wide and get it into the box - and that’s why we have signed Michael Chilton.” He continued: “We didn’t do the things we wanted to do and Dunston worked hard and caught us on the break. The defeat was our own doing and that’s the shame of it - because we seem to have broken the back of the bigger sides away from home. We have got ourselves into a relatively decent position league table wise and we are thinking ‘if we can kick on here’ - and I really fancied us against Dunston today. It’s disappointing from our point of view on the sidelines and it’s doubly frustrating when we go away from home and do well - then turn in performances like this on our own patch. It was like the Consett game where first half we were excellent. For the first half an hour in this game against a howling wind, where it was difficult for both teams to get the ball under control, we limited Dunston to very little chances then 60 minutes later we have lost 3-0.” Meanwhile Harmison sent best wishes to Dunston skipper Dale Burrell for a speedy recovery after the midfielder landed awkwardly early in the second half and was stretchered off: “The injury to Dale was right in front of our dugout and was awful,” he said, “Fingers crossed that it is not as bad as first feared because Dale has had a long time out of the game with a knee injury – I spoke to him personally about how hard it was to come back – and to have another setback less than a year later would be heart breaking for the kid so I wish him well. He’s a great lad and someone who has done well in the Northern League.” Dunston UTS secretary Bill Montague was full of praise and expressed his club’s thanks to Ashington’s backroom staff, spearheaded by physio Jay Robertson following the injury to Burrell: “Our own physio Ian Murray and Jay worked together to make sure Dale was comfortable,” he said, “Jay was a credit to Ashington FC.”