By Brian Bennett | Photo: Ian Brodie
Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner thought his side were full value for Tuesday night’s 1-0 win against Carlisle City at Woodhorn Lane.
From the midway point of the second half, the boss made changes as the Colliers could not find a way through a disciplined Cumbria rearguard.
And it was two of those substitutes Paul Robinson and Dean Briggs who combined – the former the provider and Briggs the scorer – to administer the knockout punch.
“We had to work hard – but to be fair we’ll have to work hard between now and the end of the season,” said Skinner afterwards, “Obviously we are in a good run of form so Carlisle City have come here tonight with a game plan to sit in and try to defend for their lives. They defended really deep; defended the edge of their box; tried to deny us space but let us have the ball whilst seeing if they could grab something on the counter attack. It’s not the first time we have seen that this season – it’s the first time in a little while – but it shows that people are taking notice of our recent form.”
Looking back on the first half he said: “I thought we moved the ball around our shape relatively well but it was just a little bit too slow and it allowed them (Carlisle) to get set behind the ball. We just needed to do things a little bit quicker and be a little bit braver – and our combination play in and around the penalty area, we just needed to take one or two more risks because I thought we played a bit safe.”
Skinner felt more at ease after the interval: “From the start of the second half, I thought we looked a little bit more bright and inventive,” he commented, “We did look to combine in and around the box and within the first couple of minutes we got in behind them (Carlisle); won a corner and built on it from there really. But as the game goes on, you start to think ‘is it going to be one of those nights?’ Then after a great ball across the box, the ball has dropped to Dan Maguire who has tried a little back flick and with everybody rooted, you are just waiting for the ball to roll into the bottom corner of the net – but instead it goes the wrong side of the post. We’ve also hit the crossbar but kept plugging away and then a little bit of Paul Robinson magic out wide, where he twists and turns; jinks one way then the other and gets that famous ‘chop’ and he rolls the ball to Dean Briggs who finished excellently into the bottom corner.”
He continued: “On performance I thought we deserved it; we had the lion’s share of possession and our ‘keeper Karl Dryden has made only one save in the first half which you would expect him to make. Karl had to be alert and handle balls into the box or balls bouncing through to him – and he’s done that.”
He added: “I’m delighted with another three points; delighted with another clean sheet and we’ll look forward to training on Thursday and then travel to play Newton Aycliffe away on Saturday.”
*The meeting between the two sides at Moore Lane is without doubt a top of the table clash in every sense – leaders Aycliffe against the Colliers who are in second place.
However Skinner said his outfit will be treating it like any other game: “As far as I’m concerned, it’s just another game of football,” he said, “We’ll do what we always do and approach it like any other match.” Striker Scott Heslop is ruled out with a foot injury but Skinner said apart from that, he will have almost a full compliment of players to select from for the 3pm kick-off.