By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC’s exit – following the penalty shoot out against Newcastle United under 23’s on Tuesday night in the quarter final of the Techflow Marine Northumberland Senior Cup at Woodhorn Lane – signalled the start of a double period of disappointment for manager Ian Skinner and his squad.

After reflecting on the outcome of the Newcastle clash, Skinner turned his attentions towards a gap in the fixture list where his side are without a game for three weeks – and suggested that training will be a mixture of intense work outs interspersed with a dose of festive fun!

“It will be very tough having no game to look forward too for a while,” he said, “We’ll still continue to train – but human nature tells you that at the back of their minds, the lads will relax because we haven’t got a game coming up. Obviously the reasons for not having a match are beyond our control and it would have been great if we could have had something rearranged – but that hasn’t been the case. So instead, we’ll try and make training intense and have some competitive element to it with small sided games and probably have a little bit of a festive fives just for a bit of fun but also to keep the levels high. We’ll try and make sure we stay in the best shape and condition we possibly can because when we return to action, we face a really big game at home to North Shields. They (North Shields) have the added bonus of playing over the Christmas period so we’ll just have to make sure that when the time comes, we are ready to go.”

He continued: “To be honest, there are two ways you can look at our situation. On the one hand, it’ll be a challenge to keep them (the players) motivated and keep them to the levels where they should be whilst on the other, it might be nice – after a night on what was a bit of a sticky pitch against Newcastle United under 23’s – to let them rest up a little bit and for them to come back refreshed and recharged and let them spend a little bit of the festive period with their families.”

The game against North Shields – at The dwmedia Stadium – is on Tuesday January 4 where kick off is 7.30pm.