By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC’s stand in skipper Darren Lough was cock-a-hoop after leading his side to a deserved replay from their Emirates FA Cup first qualifying round tie against Ashton United at Hurst Cross on Saturday.

The 32 year old was given the captain’s armband before the game and said afterwards: “I thoroughly enjoyed it – and being skipper doesn’t affect my game. It was a good match to play in and every one of our lads put a shift in. They (Ashton United) made it hard for us but I thought we dug in and played when we needed too. We got a draw – and hopefully we can get an even better result on Tuesday night in the replay.”

Reflecting on the 90 minutes, Morpeth-based Lough – a drainage engineer – said: “I thought we started really well against a team who are two leagues above us. We were away from home and knew what to expect – that they (Ashton) were going to be a side with good players – but then we are also a very good team. We stuck to our plan and we played some good football and although it’s a result which may have surprised a few people – I’m not surprised at all with the team we have got. We are in the hat for the next round – and that’s the main thing.”

He continued: “They (Ashton) had a spell where they were largely on top then we got into it; had a bit of possession and towards the end of the game it was end to end. We created some chances; they had a couple of little chances and something might have given. But after we conceded late against Carlisle City in midweek, it was good to keep a clean sheet and overall, I thought we put on a good performance today.”

Ashington-born Lough – who missed the start of the season due to injury – is keeping his fingers crossed: “The injury is okay now,” he said, “It’s definitely pain free and touch wood it stays like this for the rest of the season as I don’t want to be sidelined any more.”