By Brian Bennett
Ashington FC joint manager Steve Harmison was delighted with his side after they battled back with ten men to take a point from a 1-1 draw against Newton Aycliffe on Tuesday night.
Kurt Matthews gave Aycliffe an early lead in the first period then after the Colliers were reduced in number following Lewis Strafford’s red card, Ben Harmison drove home an 85th minute equaliser. A smiling Steve Harmison said afterwards: “It was a great point in the end. The lads worked very hard in a game where we could have made excuses. Half of the team didn’t arrive until after 7pm after being held up on the A1 and we started slow and lethargic. We didn’t get close enough to our opponents in the middle of the field but second half we were a lot better.” He continued: “It was a night of tough conditions where it was raining and the pitch was getting heavier and the amount of energy given in the FA Cup game against Sunderland Ryhope CW on Saturday, zapped a few of the high intensity players tonight. However, I thought the two centre halves [James Harmison and Craig Scott] were excellent again along with Ben Harmison up top - and the young kids are only going to get better. I don’t want to harp on about last season but last year we wouldn’t have won on Saturday or taken a point tonight coming to a tough place like Newton Aycliffe - and that is a good sign. We have asked a lot for players to play two games in a week and we still have got some good lads on the bench who haven’t been involved that much and we will probably have to look at them for the weekend.” Harmison – who admitted he had no qualms over Strafford’s dismissal for a second yellow card - believed in his players: “Even at 1-0 down with 10 men, I thought we were always going to get a chance especially with the artillery we have got from a set piece,” he said, “Corners were difficult to take because the areas were puddled yet we have got back on terms from a flag kick.” He concluded: “All in all after queuing in heavy traffic outside the MetroCentre at half past six, with three or four cars containing our players behind us, we have got to be pleased to leave here [Newton Aycliffe] with a point. Last year we started our league campaign with a 7-0 defeat at Consett. This year we have begun with a battling 1-1 draw and this after being reduced to ten men. It was a team effort which contributed to the work rate - especially in the second half as we found a way to get a point.”