By Brian Bennett | Photo: Ian Brodie

Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner was ecstatic on Saturday after his side had secured a 1-1 draw against Bishop Auckland.

The result saw the Colliers march into a one-off play off place this Saturday – and what’s more they thoroughly deserved it.

Skinner said afterwards: “I’m delighted because we achieved our objective. That was to make sure we had another game left this season (play off) in a match which could potentially see us promoted and move out of the Northern League. However I’m disappointed that we haven’t won today’s match to be honest when you look at the chances we had. Their goalkeeper (Ryan Catterick) has made three brilliant saves and on top of that we have missed three gilt edged chances.”

The boss was aggrieved after a penalty was given against his outfit on the half hour: “I didn’t we started particularly well,” he said, “We played a little bit too direct in the first 10-15 minutes but when you come away from home, you just want to play your way into the game. It was a bit of a nothing clash although I thought Paul Robinson had a great little chance where they (Bishop Auckland) got a block on. Then we went a goal down to a penalty and I thought it was a poor decision but it’s a one of them which you see in the modern game. Robbie Dale has stood with his hands above his head as if to say I’m not touching him (the player) and not going anywhere and I’ll be honest, when the referee blew his whistle, the first thought in my head was that the player – who had already been booked – could be sent off. When the referee gave a penalty I couldn’t quite believe it to be fair and then when Andrew Cartwright was sin binned for remonstrating about the decision, I just thought ‘here we go again.”

Skinner was happy with how his side played during Cartwright’s absence: “For that ten minutes period when we were down to ten men, we actually played our best football in the first half because we knew we had to be patient in the build up and had to play and move the ball,” he said, “The first half petered out although they (Bishop Auckland) had a spell at the end where they looked threatening.”

The boss thought his side were the better outfit after the break: “We didn’t say an awful lot at half time other than that we had 45 minutes to right the wrongs,” he said, “We wanted our build up to be more patient and actually to get back to doing what we’ve done all season – which is to get the ball down; move it and pass it and maybes not fall into the trap of going too long too early. I thought second half we were the better team. We controlled possession better than they (Bishop Auckland) did; we created numerous chances and on another day they couldn’t have argued if we had ran out three, four or 5-1 winners.”

He added: “Obviously for the last five minutes of normal time – plus the five which the referee said were going to be added on – things are going to become a little bit hairy and scary because they (Bishop Auckland) knew any goal would have seen them go into the play off whilst we knew that as long as we didn’t concede then we were through. It was hands to the pump really in terms of making sure we defended because they were always going to throw the ball forward in the hope that something would drop and they had a half chance which flashed just wide. We got Dan Maguire ‘in’ and the ‘keeper has made a great save again but we were just hoping to hold out – and we have done that.”

Meanwhile defensive lynchpin Darren Lough was forced to leave the field in stoppage time with a facial injury and Skinner said: “I’ll need to check on him for next Saturday and we wish him all the best in his recovery.”