By Brian Bennett
Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner was seething after watching his side slump to a 6-1 defeat at home to Guisborough Town on Saturday. The Woodhorn Lane boss said there were no excuses and that his players ‘need to have a look at themselves.’
After being one win away from going second top of the Ebac Northern League’s first division recently, the crushing defeat was the third reverse in a row for the Colliers who have now slipped down the table to seventh.
And afterwards Skinner said: “There are no excuses. I thought we started okay and kept the ball okay and were probably the better side until they (Guisborough) scored – and then we did what we do fantastically well where we concede twice within five minutes which gives us a mountain to climb. I always protect the group of players that we have here because I’ve got a lot of time for them – but they need to have a look at themselves now. That’s three Saturday’s in a row where we have fallen way, way short. There’s a phrase in football of ‘they’re either on the beach or don’t want to be here anymore’ and they (the players) need to decide which it is because those last three league performances aren’t good enough for this football club – and I’m not going to tolerate it anymore.”
He continued: “Don’t get me wrong – we’ve lost three of the back four today. We have got four centre backs at the club and all four are injured – two of whom are out for the season whilst we don’t know when the other two will return. So we’ve fielded a real makeshift back four and we’ve had to call on Owen Gourley to come and help us out – and credit to him. Owen hasn’t played at this level for a while and we’ve also had to ask Yannick Aziakonou to play at centre back which isn’t his preferred position but that said we attack as a team and defend as a team so I’m certainly not going to point the finger at the defence. Again you cannot plan for the goals we conceded – they are sheer individual errors which are unaccountable and the players need to start learning lessons. I don’t think Guisborough have created anything – yet they’ve scored six goals. We’ve literally – and Guisborough may chuckle at this – gifted them six goals and at this level you can’t do that.”
Skinner revealed that going in 2-0 down at the break, he challenged the players: “At half time all I did was to challenge them to show some spirit and desire and some want and I also challenged them for a performance which we haven’t seen for a few weeks but we know they are capable of. I told them they were in danger of unpicking all the good work they have done throughout the season to get them into the position we were in but the last few weeks they seem determined to just throw that all away. We have conceded four in the second half – that’s the reaction we got.”
He added: “We trained on Tuesday and the intensity was really, really good. Unfortunately we had to cancel training on Thursday due to unforeseen circumstances but the last three Saturday displays shows me they are not up for the fight.” Skinner revealed that he will step up his search to bring in new players this week: “There’s not long left before the March 31 deadline but I’m going to seriously have a look to see if I can bring one or two in,” he said, “It’s not something I usually do but because of injuries coupled with performances which are not acceptable any more – I feel I have no alternative.”