By Brian Bennett | Photo: Ian Brodie

Ashington FC’s use of a Veo camera came up trumps last week when a panel reviewed the red card issued to Ben Harmison and overturned the decision.

The Colliers skipper was sent off after only quarter of an hour of his sides top of the table clash against Ebac Northern League first division leaders Newton Aycliffe at Moore Lane – a decision which left supporters flabbergasted and manager Ian Skinner ‘in shock.’

Woodhorn Lane secretary Gav Perry said: “On the Sunday following the match against Newton Aycliffe, we reviewed the footage and felt that the referee had made a clear and obvious error in sending Ben off. That evening we submitted the initial intention to appeal the decision to the Northumberland Football Association (NFA) and then forwarded the video evidence on the Monday. A hearing was set for Wednesday evening and at 6pm I received the outcome whereby the appeal was successful and the red card had been expunged from Ben’s record.”

Skinner was naturally delighted – but unhappy that video footage is the only way to contest a dismissal: “Ben Harmison should never ever have missed a game of football because of the red card and it was overturned – rightly so – and he was available to play for us on Saturday (against Guisborough Town). As a club we have invested thousands of pounds in equipment and subscriptions for our benefit to review performances, and we shouldn’t need to use this to be able to overturn a poor decision. If we hadn’t had a Veo camera last week, Ben would have been suspended.”

He continued: “My view on the incident hasn’t changed. I said on the day that it wasn’t a red card and the reason why I didn’t comment or make any noise was because I was in shock that the referee has even considered producing the red card. We are not a club that would appeal just for the sake of it but having reviewed the video footage, it only confirmed what I thought I saw in live play – that Ben has genuinely cleared the ball. I’m still disappointed that it was a decision made in what was quite an important fixture – first v second – and we‘ve ended up playing the best part of 30 minutes longer than they have (Aycliffe) with ten men and that probably showed in the end when they scored two goals in the last ten minutes.”

He went on: “I would like to thank the panel who took the time to look at it – and I thank our secretary Gav Perry for taking the time to clip the footage and make sure the case was put together and I’m just pleased that we have still got Ben for the remainder (of the season) and will not lose him for any games.”

Harmison said: “When I saw the red card go up, I was frustrated but you cannot say anything otherwise you risk getting yourself into more trouble so you’ve just got to accept it. I was shocked (by the red card) as no one was asking for it but I knew I would get off if there was footage available and the camera showed it wasn’t a red card.

I’m happy the club appealed – I would like to thank the panel – and I’m over the moon.”