By Brian Bennett
Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner took time out at the end of a see-saw thrilling encounter at The dwmedia Stadium on Saturday before giving his postmatch thoughts on the 3-3 draw with Consett.
The boss then emerged from the dressing room and said: “It was a game this afternoon between what I consider to be two good sides – both who like to try and play football – so I thought it would be pleasant on the eye and it didn’t disappoint. Even being involved in it and the emotions we’ve gone through of being in the lead right the way through to us equalising near the end, I still think I’ve been able to process and appreciate what I’ve just watched. First half I thought we played well and if you break the game down across the 90 minutes, Consett ‘keeper Kyle Hayes has made more saves than our ‘keeper Adam McHugh. First half Hayes has made a great stop from Max Cowburn and another couple in the second half – again one from a Cowburn free kick and AJ (Adam Johnson) when he was through one on one then the ‘keeper got up and scooped the rebound away to safety. It was a really pleasing performance by us and as I say every week, this group of players are willing to work hard for each other, listen and try to play in the way we ask and encourage them to play which we think best suits their strengths. We had a disappointing result at Thornaby and yet again we’ve bounced back with a very good performance.”
He continued: “I thought our first goal was brilliantly worked and it was a fantastic header by Craig Spooner at the back post and I thought we deserved to be ahead. We then just wanted to get to half time 1-0 up – so I was a little bit disappointed we conceded an equaliser from a corner with the ball bouncing in our box. I think there was at least one opportunity to clear it and we haven’t to be fair and James Metcalfe has hit the ball through legs and bodies and it’s gone in. At half time we talked about coming down the bank second half and how the game gets drawn into that side and we started relatively brightly. However I was slightly frustrated that we’ve conceded again in similar fashion as at Thornaby whereby we’ve had the ball in the opponents box and they have broke and scored. It was a great ball in to be fair from Jake Orrell but I wasn’t sure that we deserved to be behind. However credit to this group of players because they never know when they are beaten – certainly not at home – and we got back into the game with a fantastic finish from Luke Salmon with a scissor kick-type-esq finish and then for a little period after that we looked like we might pinch one (a goal) and go into the lead but being super critical we just tried to force things a little bit too much. We had a 10 to 15 minutes spell where we wanted to play a 40 or 50 yard pass in behind to almost try and play the perfect ball and at times it looked dangerous but on other occasions, the gaps between the units gets too big and I thought we could have been a bit more patient and built the play a little bit just to get our energy levels back because we did have a spell where our levels dropped slightly.”
He went on: “I was disappointed with Consett’s third goal because it looked a poor one to concede. We had an opportunity to clear it but gave it away. However yet again our character came to the fore. It was deep into the game with nine minutes left when they (Consett) went 3-2 ahead. We made a couple of substitutions and changed our shape to try and get more bodies forward and to have a go. Yannick Aziakonou played the ball wide – we work it – and by hook or by crook Danny (Anderson) at the back post hadn’t given up and we equalise. I then had to make multiple changes again because we had changed our formation to try and get back into the match and if I’m honest the way the game was going I thought ‘yes we want to win it but let’s make sure we don’t lose it having got back on level terms. We reshuffled the pack and changed back a little bit and the game petered out a little bit towards the end.”
He added: “All in all I thought we at least deserved a draw and if I had rose tinted glasses on I’d say we possibly could have won it in terms of game defining saves. Kyle Hayes for Consett has made three or four more than our ‘keeper Adam McHugh. Adam made one in the first half where everyone thought the ball was going wide but it’s hit the post and come back and he got down to it fantastically well – but other than that I can’t remember too many where he has had to go full length.” Skinner thought the crowd were magnificent – and got value for money: “The supporters added to the occasion,” he said, “The game itself was a fantastic spectacle and the crowd of 735 – plus the atmosphere – was good and it had a proper football-match-feel to it. Credit to Consett who brought a good following with them but it was an excellent game and I’m pretty sure the crowd had value for money.”