05 Mar 2020 in Post Match Interview
ANTONY: “WE ARE HAPPY WITH A POINT”
By Brian Bennett
Ashington FC’s assistant manager Paul Antony thought his side had chances to win the contest against Sunderland RCA at Woodhorn Lane on Tuesday night – but was nevertheless reasonably pleased with the final outcome of a 1-1 draw.
Antony said afterwards: “We deserved a point in what was a difficult game in terms of the circumstances with the floodlights going out 15 minutes in the second half. We had just got a little bit of momentum at that stage. We were one nil down and I think we would have taken a point. At the final whistle we were happy - but maybe we could have nicked a win. That’s three games unbeaten now and we are starting to build up a bit of momentum and are picking up important points which is good.”
He continued: “I thought we had 10-15 minutes in the first half where we moved the ball quickly and played the way we wanted too with the intensity. RCA were the better team and had a few chances - and to be honest we were happy to come into the dressing room at half time only one nil down because it was not a brilliant first half from us. We didn’t play very well and with RCA you know what you are going to get – they are a direct team who like to pick up second balls, flood their attacking area and keep you pinned in a little bit. They were quicker to the ball and stronger. We have got a lot of young lads in our squad; we are nearly three quarters of the way through the season and they know what to expect. At half time we asked them to mix the play up a little bit. In the first half we wanted to play nice football but sometimes I feel we need to go in behind teams to stretch them which creates more space on the pitch. If you are playing balls in behind the opposition then they have to retreat back to their own goal. Up the hill, the ball is going to hold up a little bit and we have got Callum Johnston who likes to spin in beyond so that worked better for us second half and allowed us to get on the ball and move it quickly - and we created three or four really good chances.”
Antony was full of praise for debutant substitute Drew Eastlake who cancelled out Nathan O’Neill’s opener for RCA with a superb finish: “Drew came on and has scored with his second touch. He did well,” said Antony, “Technically, he’s a very good player but has been a bit unlucky with injuries. It’s great we have a reserve team now because Drew has played for them - and got an opportunity for the first team tonight. He could have had a second goal – he did nothing wrong – he just had a bit of a heavy touch. We had chances to win it - Max (Emmerson) broke in from the wing whilst Callum (Johnston) had two opportunities – one of which bobbled up horribly for him and he made the other for himself with a great first touch.”
The assistant boss also showered words of encouragement on Max Emmerson who made his full debut and Owen Gourley: “Max has deserved a start,” he added, “He has been with us a while and has been doing well in training. He looks good going forward and he is very good on the ball. He opens out well and keeps possession. It’s difficult coming in from college football – it’s not necessarily a step up, it’s a different style of game and for our young lads it takes time to adapt. Owen (Gourley) came into the side and operated well alongside Tom Bramley.”
He concluded: “We were not at our best tonight but earlier in the season it’s a game which I think we would have lost. Now we are picking up points.” *For Saturday’s short trip to face North Shields, skipper Curtis Coppen, Brandon Slater and Ben Sampson should all be available to come into contention for selection whilst Jamie Hanson – who was carried off against RCA – will need to have his fitness assessed.