By Brian Bennett
Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner was delighted on Tuesday evening after his side had won their quarter final tie of the Division One Cup against Guisborough Town with a merited 3-1 result over Guisborough at The dwmedia Stadium.
The reward for the Colliers is a home tie in the semi finals against Consett with the game scheduled to be played next Tuesday April 12.
Skinner admitted before the contest to being greedy as he looked for his outfit to turn in a five star showing as well as clinch victory and afterwards he said: “I thought we got a little bit of both if I’m honest. Obviously we got the result which was the biggest plus and keeps us in the competition with another game at home against Consett – who have scored a late winner to go through – but I was pleased with many aspects of our performance. For some reason, the wind likes to whip up at Woodhorn Lane and it did so tonight as we came out and were playing into a fairly strong wind first half. We met Guisborough a couple of weeks ago with a bit of a scratch side – and that’s not me making excuses and with no disrespect to the players who played that day – but we had a much stronger team out tonight.”
Skinner revealed that he had done his homework on the Teessiders earlier in the day: “I watched the game back a couple of times from our defeat by them recently and spent all afternoon, plotting on what we needed to do and the way Guisborough played that day because having won 6-1, the law of averages suggested that they were going to come and play the same way – and they did – whilst we changed a little bit. Thomas Kalthoeber declared himself fit after playing part of a game on Sunday to make sure he was okay and that news gave us a big boost really and freed Ben Harmison to play up front. We knew Guisborough would come and press us really, really high. So by having Luke Salmon wide left and Harmison down the middle, it allowed us to play over the press and play a little bit longer – which isn’t our usual way of playing – but sometimes you’ve got to be big enough and brave enough to say ‘if that’s what’s going to work for us tonight then that’s what we have got to do’.”
He went on: “I thought we took Guisborough by surprise and did play over the press as we looked to play two versus one in wide areas. We managed to do that and got some joy down the sides. We asked Craig Spooner to play out in a wide sort of role, knowing that that was an area we were going to target – and to be fair, he’s scored two good goals. Overall it was a fairly even game but on chances I thought we probably deserved to win it. We also defended really, really well for a period until we conceded a little bit of a soft goal – it’s a great strike by the way – but we’ve got to try and get some pressure on the ball especially knowing he (Joseph Bartiliff) is hitting it wind assisted and they pull it back to 2-1. After that, it was nice that the lads steadied themselves because we’ve got a little bit of a habit that once we concede one, we sometimes concede another quickly.” He went on: “We got into half time and obviously the big factor for us second half was coming down the bank with the wind on our backs. I thought we went a little bit too long, too often and maybes could have used the ball better whilst Guisborough had one or two flashes where they looked dangerous. Our ‘keeper Adam McHugh has made a good save with his feet and then we’ve had a chance and then scored a third goal and if I’m truthful I think it knocked the stuffing out of them (Guisborough) a little bit. They knew that had they got another goal, they were back in the game but at 3-1 they lost a little bit of belief. We still went a little bit too long and sat a little bit deep at times but given the results we’ve had of late, that was understandable. We started to put our foot on the ball and put one or two passes together and managed to keep the ball for little periods as well as mixing things up a bit and to be honest, we saw the game out relatively comfortable in the end.”