By Brian Bennett

Ashington have been handed home ties in both the Emirates FA Cup and Isuzu FA Vase after the draw was conducted on Friday.

Manager Ian Skinner’s reaction was to say that the two fixtures ‘couldn’t have been tougher’ – but reckons his counterparts will have said exactly the same!

In the Emirates FA Cup, the Colliers will take on Newton Aycliffe in the extra preliminary round on Saturday August 6 with the winners away to either Tadcaster Albion or Tow Law Town.

The Isuzu FA Vase first qualifying round has pitched the Wansbeck side against Billingham Town at Woodhorn Lane on Saturday August 27 with the winners at home to Sunderland West End.

Manager Skinner said: “There are two things to take from the cup draws. The first is that it is a real positive that they are both at home – but the second is that I don’t think we could have got two tougher draws if I’m honest.”

He continued: “Billingham Town have signed a lot of players from Sunderland Ryhope CW who resigned from the league and looking at last season’s table, Newton Aycliffe and Ryhope CW finished fourth and fifth respectively – so we will be playing two teams potentially that finished above us in the league. Therefore they will both be really; really tough games but hopefully home advantage will stand us in good stead.” He went on: “However, I’m convinced that both Newton Aycliffe and Billingham Town will be saying exactly the same as what I am – in that the draws couldn’t have been tougher.”