By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner said at the weekend that he would like the Woodhorn Lane club to continue making progress – and in the ‘not too distant future’ he would like to take them up to the next step on the footballing pyramid.

The Colliers – now in the middle of a break in the fixture list –sit in seventh place in the Ebac Northern League’s first division on 38 points and asked whether he was happy with the season so far he said: “To be honest yes and no! At times we have been really, really good and I think the way we have tried to play has been pleasing. I think we have been worthy of the admission fee in most games this season and certainly if you want to see goals, Ashington games tend to be the ones to visit. I have been really pleased with some of our performances; with our philosophy and our game model; how we try and approach the game and with the amount of goals we have scored but slightly disappointed with the amount (of goals) we have conceded. However, when you try and play offensive the way we do at times then we do leave ourselves open a little bit although some of the goals we have conceded have certainly been avoidable and we have made a number of mistakes which have cost us in games. But all in all I think we are a few points off those top two promotion places so I am certainly pleased with that.”

He continued: “There were some matches where we were in commanding positions deep into games and ended up drawing or losing them. The majority of those happened earlier in the season and were frustrating so we could be slightly better off than where we are. On the whole we are still in touch – with the chance of trying to push into those top spots, so I’m quite pleased. I said from day one when I took the job that I’d only do it if we could progress as a team and I also said that people would need to be patient and give us time because it would take time to build from where we were. I think we‘ve not only got a great group of players but also a great group of characters. I enjoy knowing that I am going to get to work with them (the players) but also see them as people two to three times a week so credit to them because that goes a long way and we haven’t got any what you would perceive to be ‘big time charlies’ in the dressing room. Everybody seems to get along with each other so it’s a really good dressing room – possibly one of the best I’ve been involved with, so that helps and that probably shows a little bit on the pitch at times.”

He added: “Even as recently as the Newcastle United game where we were frustrated with ourselves that we weren’t quite playing to the levels we are capable of, we managed to up our game and get back into it so all in all what I would say is that we are progressing and want to keep progressing and I make no secret of the fact that I would like to take this club out of this league in the future – in the not too distant future at that. To do that we will have to keep working hard and will have to keep winning games of football. We’ll keep looking to improve – that’s what we try to do on a weekly basis – and come the end of the season usually the table doesn’t lie over the course of the season and you tend to finish where you deserve too.”

He concluded: “In the last few seasons, we’ve had to scrap right until the end of the campaign to ensure we retained our first division status so it is nice this year that we are looking up as opposed to down and long may that continue. We strive to catch those teams who are above us – and we’ll continue to do that.”