By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner – obviously disappointed after watching his side come out on the wrong end of a 4-0 defeat at West Auckland – said that the key word surrounding the Woodhorn Lane based outfit at the moment is ‘perspective.’

After trailing to a Jordan Blinco opener shortly before half time, the Colliers were swept away on the hour as West scored three inside four minutes through Corey Nicholson and a brace from Cieran Jackson.

Skinner said: “Listen, I think the word for me today is perspective – because we certainly need to put things into perspective. Lots of aspects went against us today but in my eyes there were still positives to take from the defeat. We have now gone three games without a win and there was always going to come a point in the season where we would hit a sticky patch or maybes fall out of form a little bit and I think we might be in that period right now. I keep mentioning pitches but it’s no coincidence that pitches aren’t suiting us at the moment but we’ve got to be bigger than that and learn to play different ways.”

Skinner’s plans were hit in the hours leading up to the kick-off: “I left people out of the squad and then turned up on match day with people dropping out at noon and 1.30pm. So on Friday night I’m ringing lads to say ‘sorry you’re not in the 16’ and then come 3pm on the Saturday, we couldn’t fill the bench – so that’s gone against us a little bit.”

He continued: “In terms of the game itself, we started relatively well. I thought West Auckland started a bit cautiously and allowed us to have the ball and we’ve produced two fantastic moves – one in particular where we have worked the ball from left to right, gone in down the side, made a great cut back with a great connection at the front post and you’re just waiting for the net to ripple – but the West ‘keeper (Daniel Cameron) has denied us with a brilliant save. Then we have worked it from right to left, got wide and crossed the ball in and it’s flashed across the goal with the defender making an unbelievable block on the line at the back post. At 0-0, they were two massive chances and if they had gone it, it’s a different game and then I just thought we took one or two risks in our own half. We needed to play in their half more and again it was collective errors that led to the first goal. We didn’t get out and press the ball quick enough and then when we did get towards the ball, we stopped and allowed them to play the ball down the line which allows the centre forward to time his run to be onside and he was through and scored.”

The definitive action came when West scored three goals in four minutes: “We actually had a bright start to the second half,” added Skinner, “Then we’ve lost the game through poor individual defending and one versus one situations in wide areas and then one of two players have lost focus and concentration on what their job was. West have scored three goals in four minutes whereby they got down the sides, played the ball inside and managed to square it to a free player in the box to side foot home from a maximum of ten yards. They were three almost identical goals – we are 4-0 down – and the disappointing thing is that when we go 2-0 down, we should get a reaction whereby ‘we’ve got a bigger job to do now and we need to switch on and concentrate’ – but we got the complete opposite so that’s something we will have to look at.”

He went on: “We are in a tough period – we were always going to go through one – and it’s about sticking together but you don’t become a bad team overnight. We’ve played our 18th league game today and have dropped 15 points. That means we are collecting on average over two points per game and if you do that for an entire season you’ll be in a strong position come the end of it – but perspective is the key word. Yes we are not in the form we were in earlier but it’s up to us to work hard and get the balance right. From Wednesday night at Heaton Stannington, there were at least four changes in the starting eleven so again this run of games which we are in of two a week means we can’t really get lots of continuity so that has had an impact – but we are not looking for excuses. We’ll keep things in perspective; we’ve got a good squad and we should be able to utilise that squad during this period. We just need to work hard; work hard for each other collectively and concentrate because a six minutes lapse has cost us the game today. People see the score line and think ‘that’s a thumping – and potentially 4-0 is a thumping’ but for periods of the game today we played some decent football and created some very, very good chances. West Auckland have scored four goals whereas we’ve probably had at least ten shots on target and haven’t scored – and that’s the difference.”

Skinner concluded: “To finish on a positive, we’ve managed to get Dan Maguire, Dean Briggs and Lee Mason on the pitch as substitutes – hopefully there’s no instant reaction – and when they came on we saw some spark and some inventive play in and around the final third with lots of shots from distance and on another day we could have got one or two goals back. Potentially to have all three available for selection again on Tuesday night (December 6) when we make the short journey to play Whickham would be a big plus.”