By Brian Bennett
Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner described his sides performance as ‘first class’ after they had demolished Seaham Red Star 6-0 in their opening Ebac Northern League first division fixture of the season at Woodhorn Lane on Saturday.
The goals flowed in each half with Lee Mason and Lewis Suddick both notching braces with one apiece for Dan Maguire and Craig Spooner.
Skinner – who admits that he never gets too high after a win or too low after a defeat – emerged from the dressing room afterwards with a broad smile on his face and said: “It was a good start to the season. We’ve tried to work them (the players) as hard as we could pre season and we asked them to start with a positive performance for the first league game – and to be fair, I don’t think anyone from an Ashington perspective can be disappointed with what they (the players) served up. Similar to last week in the Cleator Cup final against North Shields, I think we had a really good chance in the first couple of minutes to go ahead and from then onwards – and without being disrespectful – we’ve dominated the ball and have created numerous opportunities and scored some very, very good goals so credit to the players who have taken on board what we have tried to do today. We’ve looked at a couple of different ways of playing in pre season and we set up with the ability to be able to play either of those systems today knowing we could change it during the game if we needed too. It was a first class performance really. They (the players) have set the standards so it’s up to them now to go on. We’ve brought some really good players to the club; we expect to be in and around the business end of the division but that doesn’t come easy – that comes with hard work and making sure we apply ourselves properly – and all of those things the players did today, They’ve won the game so if we can continue to do that on a regular basis starting on Tuesday night against Northallerton Town when we are at home again, then we’ll do okay.”
He continued: “On today’s showing, the players are where we want them to be – but Tuesday night will be a different game. We try to tailor pre season in a certain way; we put a little bit of detail into how the fixtures fell and if you look at the last three games (of pre season), we played against teams higher up in the pyramid. We were disappointed with some of the things we did in those games but we knew it would stand us in good stead for our first league match of the season when again – without being disrespectful – the competition, the opposition and the level of which they play at drops a little bit from facing South Shields, North Shields and Blyth Spartans. It was about making sure we could assert ourselves on the game and I thought we did that. Scoring early always helps but the difference being that we scored early and stayed on the front foot and kept creating chances whilst the difference between last week and this week was that we were more ruthless in the first half and we found ourselves three goals to the good.”
He went on: “Again it’s about keeping standards high and managing the game state making sure you do things correctly and we did all of those things in the second half. We also scored really early which really puts the contest to bed. It would have been easy to take our foot off the gas and just knock the ball about but we didn’t – we stayed on the front foot. We didn’t need to chase the game but if opportunities presented themselves we wanted to be ruthless and take them. All in all credit to Seaham – they stuck at it and came into it a little bit when we made three and four changes so fair play to them for keep going. It’s always difficult – and I have been there myself last season when we ourselves were on the wrong end of a 6-1 score line at home to Guisborough Town.”
Short in the defensive department due to injuries, Skinner paired Robbie Dale with Yannick Aziakonou and was also delighted with a clean sheet: “That was probably the focal point of the discussions at half time – to keep a clean sheet,” he said, “Our goalkeeper Karl Dryden had little to do – I don’t think he was called into what you would call a full length save – but what he needed to do, he did well; Jordan Summerly played really well at left back; Robbie Dale just loves football and can play anywhere and looked comfortable at centre back which he has done pre season against higher opposition so that was never going to be an issue whilst Yannick Aziakonou never put a foot wrong. Andrew Cartwright is different class at right back so it probably helped Yannick (Aziakonou) a little bit today whereas last season when we maybes were in a similar situation and we asked him to play there, he was playing with different types of players. But with Dale one side of you and Cartwright the other, it is going to make your task a little bit easier. Even the subs who came on showed up – Adam Johnson was lively and forced a great save from the Seaham ‘keeper; Jordan Lashley has had a couple of opportunities; Paul Robinson did what Paul Robinson does, sending defenders one way then the other whilst Danny Anderson got on the ball which we asked him to do. Overall, the players need all of the credit today – they’ve gone out there and they’ve done the talking on the pitch. Everybody says we are a good side – but today my players have showed that we are a good side.”