07 Oct 2021 in First Team
CONNOR: “I COULDN’T HAVE ASKED FOR ANY MORE”
By Brian Bennett
Blyth Town boss Michael Connor admitted that his side couldn’t have given any more’ after they exited the Techflow Northumberland Senior Cup following a 3-2 defeat against Ashington on a horrible night of rain and wind which made conditions extremely difficult at The dwmedia Stadium on Tuesday.
With quarter of an hour remaining, Blyth led 2-0 following a double from striker Adam Johnson which put Connor’s underdogs on their way towards causing a shock in this first round tie home side. But Ashington staged a dramatic late comeback to win a five goal thriller in stoppage time with goals from Karl Ross, Luke Salmon and Ryan McGorrigan
Connor said afterwards: “I couldn’t have asked for any more from the players and to be fair, I cannot complain at all. We came here knowing that it was going to be a real tough game - but we gave a great account of ourselves. Two-nil ahead, the Ashington ‘keeper (Adam McHugh) has made a great save from Kurtis Dodds which would have made it 3-0 and then it was backs to the wall - and to be fair you could see it coming - with us wondering if we could we hold out but it was not to be. However, as a new team in the league we can hopefully build on this performance and go from strength to strength off the back of it.”
He continued: “We lost 8-1 against West Allotment Celtic and 5-0 against Carlisle City but after tonight we now know where we need to be and have to put displays like tonight in every week. It’s about giving these lads the experience of playing against really good first division teams and hopefully it will put us in a good place over the rest of the season. Ashington had a lot of the ball – we knew they would – but our lads kept their shape well. There were a couple of times where we could have got out to the ball a little bit quicker but we’ve let it (the ball) come in from the left hand side and haven’t dealt with it. We have got a 35 man squad and have got 22 players on the injury list. Tonight we’ve only been able to bring two subs on and we needed that third sub – someone to come on to steady the ship a little bit. We have got four or five players who have come back after being out and you could see that near the end of the game. Tyler Davis, Kurtis Dodds and Rhys Groves – the latter who has been out for three months – were all playing only their second game.”
The 48 year old went on: “When we got our second goal, I thought ‘have all our Christmases come at once?’ but we knew we were going to have to dig in. Let’s be honest - Ashington have had a lot of chances and our ‘keeper Callum Corkhill has had a brilliant game in goal. We also blocked shots; we had a four with two defensive midfielders in front to stop Ashington getting the ball but when they were getting it (the ball) out wide and over lapping and getting crosses in, I said to my assistant manager Carl Hetherington with five minutes to go ‘if we can hold on to this, it will be a miracle’.
“As for the two goals we conceded at the end of the game, could we have dealt with them a little bit better? Yes I think we could and we have said that in the changing rooms but to be fair we were under a lot of pressure and we knew it was going to be a counter attacking game for us. We knew we had to sit deep in a 4-5-1 formation and when we won the ball could we put it in a position where we could hurt them (Ashington) - and we did that a couple of times. Yes we are gutted but we believe that tonight people will have seen for themselves that we are heading in the right direction.”