By Brian Bennett
Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner admitted after Saturday’s thrilling encounter against Consett had ended all square at 4-4 that a draw was a fair result – but the boss could not conceal his overall disappointment.
Skinner said afterwards: “My initial reaction is one of disappointment if I’m honest because on two occasions in the game we were two goals ahead. To be fair to Consett started the game brighter than we did and we probably scored slightly against the run of play and then we scored another one quickly. But for whatever reason as a team we don’t defend well enough and make it difficult enough for the opposition. There were two attacking minded teams out there today and we conceded a really poor goal allowing Scott Heslop a free header to make it 2-1 followed by an equaliser from Dale Pearson. But by hook or by crook we go 3-2 ahead after Dean Briggs scores an outrageous goal in added on time at the end of the first half, where he takes a fantastic first touch from just inside the Consett half then turns and puts the ball over the ‘keepers head.”
He continued: “At half time we talked about how we can play and what we do when we have got the ball and what we do when we haven’t got the ball. We went 4-2 up after a brilliant move and goal then for a period of 10-15 minutes, the game had a lull which suited us because it wasn’t really going anywhere. Then all of a sudden we couldn’t put two passes together and we kept turning the ball over to Consett who moved it really well and passed it well – and when a team does that, if you keep giving them the ball, you’ve got to do an awful lot of running. We started giving needless free kicks away; too many corners away, bearing in mind that we talked about their delivery into the box which is real quality. Then it becomes 4-3 and we need to be braver at the front post. We talked about we had to be big and brave but it looked as if we turned our backs on the ball at the near post and Calvin Smith didn’t know a lot about it – the ball just hit him and goes in.”
He went on: “Consett kept coming and I thought it was a soft free kick which led to the equaliser but again we have made the referee make a decision and fair play to Jake Orrell who has stepped up and bent the ball into the top corner. We talked about limiting set plays but we should have won it late on with three brilliant chances. Kyle Hayes has made two really good saves and then we’ve broke two versus one. Jordan Lashley has done brilliantly, drawn the defender and passed to Craig Spooner on the edge of the box who with just the ‘keeper to beat has fallen over the ball.”
He went on: “I thought a draw was a fair result today but we’ve had three unbelievable games across the season with Consett and have won 11-10 on aggregate! The clashes have been between two teams that want to go forward and score goals and probably both teams achilles heel for the season is conceding too many goals!”
Skinner reflected on the campaign: “When we analyse the season as a whole, if anyone had said we would finish eighth and get to a cup final then most players would say ‘where do I sign?’ It’s been a fantastic season and the players have done really well but a little part of me is pondering about what could have been especially our form towards the end of the season and three or four of our away games where we were on the wrong end of some big score lines which was quite surprising. However, I’m a firm believer at the end of the campaign – and it’s a bit of cliché – that you end up in the league table where you deserve too and next year we need to look to be better. Meanwhile cup competitions tell us all that on our day we can beat anybody because we have managed to progress to a cup final. We’ve had a tough route to get there beating Thornaby, Guisborough and Consett – and now we’ll start to plan towards the game which will be against Sunderland Ryhope CW or Newcastle Benfield.”