By Brian Bennett
Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner saw his side hit double figures at The dwmedia Stadium on Saturday with victory over Billingham Town.
For the 4-0 result was the Colliers tenth league win of the season and afterwards, the boss labelled the display as being a real solid performance: “We had to make sure we stayed in the game and try to manage the conditions in the first half then use them to our advantage second half – and fair play to the players because they were excellent, following on from Tuesday night’s win at Newton Aycliffe where they were superb,” he said, “Consequently, I was really pleased because it was a real solid performance and another pleasing victory played in difficult circumstances. We maybes had to be patient but the wind was blowing and the pitch was heavy. I thought for the first 30 minutes we were comfortable and were the better side without really fashioning too many chances of threatening the goal but I thought we had the majority of possession and we moved the ball relatively well. However, when we got to that final third, our final pass maybes went awry or astray. Billingham came into the game just before half time and they had a period where they looked as if they could score or they posed a threat going forward which they hadn’t done earlier in the game.”
He continued: “I was pleased we got in 0-0 at the interval. First half it was a workmanlike performance and we did well. For the second period we talked about what we always talk about – ‘can we come down the bank with the wind on our backs and can we look to really stretch them and can we look to play with a bit of quality and tempo about our game and see if we can score early in the half as then that makes it really difficult for them (Billingham) because they then have to come out. They tried to play in a mid block and to be fair they didn’t really get out of their own half very often. As soon as we scored the first goal, I was confident it was always going to be a case of can we go on and score two or three. Our third goal was a fantastic move with great football which is what we have been about all season and credit to the players. We ask them to try and play expansive and with tempo but they take on the instructions and to win 4-0 again at home is fantastic not only for us as a group but for the supporters who came in there hundreds again which is great to see – that’s with lots of other clubs who are at home today and premiership football just up the road.”
Skinner gave a special mention to Liam Doyle who unselfishly laid the ball off for Dean Briggs to net the second goal: “Liam is that type of player,” he said, “He works and runs hard for the team and he showed his quality in the final third today. He’d probably be the first to tell you, that he prefers to play a little bit deeper but he’s come in and played down that right hand side and the last couple of games, he’s made that position his own. Today it would have been easy for him to have a strike at goal himself but he has put it on a plate for Dean (Briggs). Then later in the game in a similar sort of situation, he’s tried to pick someone out in the middle to score and their defender (Lexus Beeden) has put the ball into his own goal.”
He went on: “The players are a good tight group who are together and over the last ten days there’s been a real coming together. Obviously some people will look at that 5-0 defeat we had at West Auckland – and I still stand by the comments I made at the time that it was a funny old game and unless you were there to see it for yourself, you probably wouldn’t believe it. We then went to Newton Aycliffe who are a good side and blown them away in the first 45 minutes and then today we’ve had to be a little bit patient – and without being disrespectful – we’ve again blown the opposition away in the second 45 minutes. That comes from the group of players we have got at this football club and I’m bordering on saying that it could potentially be the best group I’ve ever worked with to be fair in terms of there togetherness. There are no egos in the dressing room; they all want to work hard for each other; they are all genuine and honest and they are reaping the benefits. And the club are reaping the benefits too because they are performing for the club.”
On Saturday (November 6), Ashington travel down to Teesside where they meet Thornaby.
Max Emmerson and Tom Bramley remain sidelined through injury but Bobby Taylor and ‘keeper Karl Dryden should return to the squad. Dean Briggs is emigrating to Dubai at the start of the week whilst Damen Mullen has returned to Hebburn Town after completing a one month loan.