By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner emerged from the dressing rooms on Saturday following the 0-0 draw against Ashton United in Greater Manchester and gave maximum credit to his players: “There’s not many nil-nil games involving an Ashington team that I have been in charge of – and although it’s not a first, it is rare!” he said afterwards, “It was certainly not a score line which I would have predicted before the game – but I can’t be anything other than pleased with the way the lads have played to be fair.”

Playing against a team who operate two leagues higher than the Colliers in the Northern Premier League Premier Division, Skinner added: “The first half was quite tentative a little bit I thought – but that was understandable. We’ve got players who have played at this level and above in our squad and they certainly weren’t fazed by it. On the other hand, we’ve also got one or two who haven’t experienced playing at this level before in a competitive game and in the first half, I thought they almost just wanted to make sure they did their jobs and didn’t give anything away cheaply – which we were guilty of the previous week against Billingham Town when we went out of the Isuzu FA Vase.”

He continued: “At half time we talked about one or two things for maybes those who haven’t played at this level regularly and said ‘hopefully you’ve seen in the first 45 minutes that there is a game of football here which we can actually go on and win in the second half’ and I thought after the break – without being disrespectful – we were the better side. We certainly grew into the game; we had the better chances; their goalkeeper (Gregory Hartley) has had to make three or four saves whilst our stopper Karl Dryden has maybes made one. To be honest, it was just disappointing that we didn’t get a goal to win it because I thought our performance probably warranted it and again without being disrespectful we probably shaded the game.”

Skinner went on: “If somebody had offered me a 0-0 score line before the game, I probably would have took it so I was delighted. Having watched Ashton, I tried to work on how we could attack the game and get something from it. I gave them (the players) some information and they took it on board. They’ve carried the game plan out so full credit to them.”

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