By Brian Bennett | Photo: Ian Brodie

Ashington FC manage Ian Skinner – bitterly disappointed after his side 3-2 defeat at the hands of Whickham on Tuesday night – admitted that ‘it’s advantage Newton Aycliffe’ for promotion come the end of the season.

After leading at the interval through Karl Ross, the Colliers went 2-1 behind at Whickham to goals from Tom Romano and Scott Robson. Scott Heslop levelled but Romano got his second in stoppage time which sent the Wansbeck outfit to their seventh league defeat of the campaign.

“Tonight was a big game,” he said, “It was a game in hand – a game which had we won would have seen us go level with Newton Aycliffe at the top of the league. We are now three points behind them having played the same number of games so it’s advantage Newton Aycliffe. All we can do now is to look towards Saturday’s home match against Pickering Town, hopefully pick up three points and try to win every game between now and the end of the season. Wherever it puts us, we’ll have to accept because I’m a little bit old fashioned and over a 38 game season, the table generally isn’t wrong.”

As he looked back at the first half at the First Mortgage Glebe Stadium, Skinner commented: “I thought we started the game really, really well. We were bright and played with tempo; created a number of opportunities and probably scored the scrappiest of goals. A couple of chances fell to various people then the ball came out to Karl Ross and it wasn’t the cleanest of strikes but it’s gone in the bottom corner. They all count and to be honest I thought we deserved to be at least 1-0 up at half time.”

Whickham drew level within two minutes of the resumption with a controversial goal with Ashington claiming the ball had gone out of play for a goal kick. Skinner said: “We talked in the dressing room about doing the right things in the second half – but the start was disastrous. Obviously from where I was I couldn’t see if the ball is out (for a goal kick) but there’s a thing in football whereby if you are unsure you can usually tell by player’s reactions. Darren Lough left the ball and ran away from it – if the ball is still on the pitch why would he (Lough) leave it (the ball) and move away from it for there centre forward who started dribbling with it before putting it into the net? Everybody was looking as if to say ‘what’s gone on’ – but the goal was given.”

He added: “I’m proud of our defensive record this season in terms of before tonight’s game we had only conceded 30 goals in 32 league games – less than a goal a game – but anybody who saw our defending for all three goals tonight would be flabbergasted because they are very, very poor goals. There were individual errors within those goals but as a team second half defensively, we were all over the shop. We allowed Whickham to play more direct; we allowed them to play forward and run forward which they do well especially with the slope and we turned the game into a bit of a battle and a scrap and the squad I have assembled, without being disrespectful, aren’t battlers and scrappers – they’re footballers. Consequently it frustrates me when they decide to get into scraps and battles because that doesn’t suit us and that’s probably the reason why we found ourselves 2-1 down. We managed to equalise and when we did that we were the brighter team because we started to pass the ball again and I don’t know how many times in the second half I must have shouted to the players ‘keep passing it’. Then to concede another really poor goal and lose the game is very disappointing.”

For Saturday’s clash against Pickering Town at Woodhorn Lane (3pm), Skinner is hoping Dan Maguire and Andrew Cartwright – who both missed the Whickham game through injury – will be available but defender Darren Lough is ruled out through suspension.