26 Nov 2018 in Post Match Interview
By Brian Bennett
Ashington FC manager Steve Bowey showered praise on his playing staff on Saturday following the 3-3 draw against Bishop Auckland at Heritage Park.
Three times the Colliers equalised – the latter in the 90th minute – and a delighted Bowey said: “The camp at the minute is fantastic. We haven’t picked up a win in the last three games - but drew away to Shildon; were unlucky against Hebburn where we played really well and there was only one goal in it – then our result today. Performance wise the players have been excellent and credit to them. We had two lads from the under 17’s on the bench today and young Mattie (Smith) has come on and helped us to get a point. We have a lot of injuries and are down to the bare bones but it’s a fantastic achievement when you examine the circumstances. The performance today was terrific. To go behind three times and still get a point just shows what character and belief there is in the group. We scored some good goals today – like Lee McAndrew’s great ball in and a fantastic header from Zak Atkinson and then when you analyse the Bishops goals, we were asleep for the first one and should have done better and the second we could have cleared our lines with the third stemming from a corner. When you concede in that matter it’s disappointing. Our goalkeeper Conor Grant made a couple of good saves and Bishops were pressing to get the win and will be gutted that they didn’t get all three points today – but I’m over the moon. We got a draw – and I certainly would have taken that before kick off. I’m happy for the players who have stuck by us - there’s a nice team bond we have got going at the minute - and today we have brought a couple of the young lads in.” Bowey explained his decision to play striker Tony Stephenson in the middle of the back four: “Credit to Tony (Stephenson) who came in and scored the equaliser which was great for him. He’s been out of the picture for three months; played 45 minutes against Hebburn Town on Tuesday and then a full game today at centre half – a position he has never filled before. I just thought we needed something different. David Edwards has been operating in that role which was also out of position for him and it was spur of the moment decision to play Stephenson there. Tony walked into the ground and I asked him about the possibility of playing centre half. He had a glint in his eye and the feedback and the vibe we got, I knew straight away it was the right decision to hand him the number six shirt. It was a massive gamble and people probably questioned the decision but it paid off because Tony had a great game today and got our late leveller.” Bowey was ecstatic with the result: “It was a great point. When we got the equaliser at the death you could see all of the lads celebrating and that’s what it means to them. I would have been devastated had we got nothing because the game was wide open with two attacking teams. The only downside was the goals we conceded because they could have been prevented – but Bishops didn’t tear us apart. It was nice to put a show on for the Ashington fans who travelled because they went home happy and overall I’m a happy manager and proud of the players – not only for their performance but for adopting a first class attitude.” For Saturday’s home clash against high flying Dunston UTS, Bowey hopes to have one or two of his experienced players back: “Gez Richardson; Liam Armstrong, Shaun Vipond will all come into the equation but I think the game will come too soon for Kyle Downey.” Saturday’s kick-off is 3pm.