By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner says the main aspect of warm up games is fitness.

The boss took virtually a full squad up to Alnwick on Tuesday night and he commented afterwards: “It was a great work out and we say thank you very much to Alnwick for hosting us. They have got fantastic facilities and the pitch was great which is why we try to come up here annually. The players enjoyed it because it was different surroundings and a change of scenery – it wasn’t purely a training session as such for them.”

He continued: “We approached the match in a split way. We had half the group who warmed up and played the first hour whilst the second group did a little bit more of an intensive pre game routine before they came on for the last half hour. Don’t get me wrong it’s a little bit more difficult for the ones who come on to get into the game especially bearing in mind I put them through an hour’s worth of work beforehand. So they’ve done an hour then sat and watched for an hour then had to come on and play for half an hour. That’s always difficult – so credit to them.”

He went on: “I thought from the first whistle the lads looked to get as much physical return out of the game as they possibly could in terms of their endeavour and enthusiasm and their willingness to run both in and out of possession. They applied themselves correctly and got the maximum out of the game that they could – and they played some good football. However it was all about fitness and getting back on a pitch and taking the players back out of their comfort zone because you can play as many 11 v 11’s in training as you want but they (the players) know each other’s game inside out.”

Ashington now move onto Friday night’s away clash against Blyth Town: “It will be another good test for us,” added Skinner, “Again it is a good set up and the pitch is usually good there as well – we try to arrange out friendlies whereby we play on decent surfaces because of the way we want to play the game. We’ll mix things up again and be looking for a similar outcome to get lots of minutes into people’s legs to start and putt some of the movement patterns which we have been working on into practice and we’ll keep looking towards July 30 when the Ebac Northern League starts.” He concluded: “I was really, really pleased and we’ll look forward to Friday night for what will be another good game as well as being a tough test.”