By Brian Bennett
Ben Harmison admitted that adrenalin played a massive part in helping him to get through Ashington’s prestigious Emirates FA Cup third qualifying round tie against Stocksbridge Park Steels on Saturday which ended in a 2-2 draw.
The Colliers were spurred on by a terrific following from their supporters – three coach loads left the Woodhorn Lane ground at 10am – but fans were unaware that skipper Harmison had just finished a shift at work and had only managed to catch a couple of hours sleep before boarding the team bus bound for Sheffield.
Harmison and Darren Lough both turned in excellent performances at the heart of the defence and it was the former who put his side 2-1 ahead with a little over quarter of an hour of the cup tie remaining.
However a late equaliser for the home side by Mitch Langton put a spoke in what would have been a dream day for Harmison: “I finished work at 6am in the morning,” he said, “I did get my head down for a while before we set off but in big games, the adrenalin gets you through it. After I scored, I thought they (Stocksbridge) would push on and we would get a chance on the break – which we did – only Lee Mason has been unlucky in hitting the bar.”
He continued: “If anyone had asked us before the game, we probably would have taken a draw or a win to still be in the hat on Monday. But after the game, we were all disappointed and a bit deflated in the changing rooms after being 2-1 up with 15 minutes to go and conceding two goals to crosses that we should be defending better. The second one is a bit of a ricochet and has just fallen for the lad (Mitch Langton) but deep down, we probably didn’t play as well as we could.”
He added: “Nevertheless it was still a great achievement because they (Stocksbridge) are a side who are another level higher up the pyramid. We also went into the game with a few players who were coming back from injury as well as being without another couple of lads players who have been playing well who were unavailable so although we didn’t win, to take them (Stocksbridge) back to Woodhorn Lane was good.”
Harmison has now scored in consecutive rounds in the FA Cup after heading home the second in Ashington’s 2-1 win over Bradford Park Avenue: “I’m just popping up and getting into the right areas but to score goals you need service,” he said, “Today, it was a great ball in by Dean (Briggs), I just stuck a leg out and it’s gone in.”
He continued: “After that we knew they (Stocksbridge) were going to come at us and we were getting tired which was understandable after being on a coach for two to three hours. However we go again on Tuesday night and a big crowd behind us could help to push us through.”