By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner had sympathy with his outfit after they had lost by the odd goal in three in their top of the table clash against Sunderland Ryhope CW at the Recreation ground on Saturday.

Skinner said afterwards: “To be honest, I thought the result was harsh on us because we deserved something from the game – certainly for the second half performance. It’s good now that we come to places and we’re disappointed that we haven’t won and we’re looking upwards rather than over our shoulders which has maybes been the case in previous seasons. Obviously the result was disappointing because we wanted to take maximum points. It was a game of very contrasting styles and by that I don’t mean to be disrespectful (to Ryhope) because I have got a lot of time for the management team at Ryhope. We knew what we were going to get; we knew they would be direct and get the ball forward quickly and try and turn us around and be aggressive – and they did that in the first half.”

He continued: “It was a little bit of déjà vu from last week (at Sunderland RCA) where there was a bit of a slope on the pitch and it was a really difficult surface to play on and I think we took that for granted and took it literally – because we went too long, too often and too early which played into the strengths of Ryhope who were happy to stand and defend and head things to safety. They (Ryhope) won the majority of the first balls and picked up a lot of the second balls in the first half and we conceded a poor goal with a little bit of a deflection and went in at the break 1-0 down.”

Skinner saw his side mount a sustained challenge from the start of the second period: “At half time we talked about how we could really go and influence the game and how we needed to try and stamp our authority and style on it,” he said, “We dominated possession; the match was played in their half and we created lots of good opportunities but were just a little bit wasteful in the final third. We got into some really good positions in that final third but our final pass, set, touch or cross wasn’t quite where we wanted it to be today.”

The boss however, was delighted with the leveller from debutant Lewis Suddick: “We scored a very, very good equaliser,” he added, “It was really good combination play up the right hand side featuring Liam Doyle and Lewis Suddick who combined with Adam Johnson who then reversed the ball for Suddick who took his goal well. In the end – and certainly in the second half – there were lots of the performance I was pleased with in difficult circumstances and against difficult opposition but I was disappointed with the manner in which we have conceded the two goals. The second was a little bit too easy for them to get the cross in from the left and then it looked like an effort at the back post which hit the crossbar and post and went in.”

Ashington host high flying North Shields at The dwmedia Stadium on Tuesday and Skinner said: “To be honest, it would have been nice to have been able to train on Tuesday to work on our play in the final third! It’s fine margins in that area of the pitch and if we had found that extra quality today we would have taken the game away from Ryhope in the second half but unfortunately that wasn’t the case. However, this group of players always show good character and after every defeat this season we’ve come back and won our next game – and we couldn’t have a better clash than against North Shields.”