By Brian Bennett

For Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner there was far much more to admire from the 2-0
victory over Bedlington Terriers on Wednesday night than the result.

Skinner – who gave starts to a plethora of youngsters for the first 55 minutes of the
game – said afterwards: “The first half team tonight was very much about the fact that we
have got a crop of youngsters who we feel we can develop. They may not all be ready
for the ‘here and now’ but credit to them. Other than Charlie Exley – who was playing his
first pre season match tonight because he has been on holiday – plus Ross Coombe
who has also played at the level which we are going into; Jordan Summerly and Yannick
Aziakonou and a little bit of experience with Danny Craggs, we blooded six youngsters
all at the same time. I include Max Emmerson in that half a dozen because he is still a
young boy and he has been out almost 24 months so to see him back out on the pitch
was a huge plus. I thought they all applied themselves well in the first half and tried to
carry out the way we wanted to play.”

He continued: “There are still lots of things to look at and work on, in particular being a
little bit braver on the ball but for 55 minutes I thought they were really good and should
be pleased especially the younger ones, four of whom were only 18 (years of age).
They’ve gone up against a good second division Northern League team in Bedlington
Terriers – who were in the play offs last year – and have held their own and matched
them. I would have liked to have left them on the pitch longer if I’m honest but we had to
get some minutes into the other lads. We were however conscious that we had trained
the previous night so we didn’t want to overload the players who came on for the final 35

minutes with an eye on the Morpeth game on Saturday. I thought it was evident when
we made all of those changes that there was a little increase in tempo and probably a
little bit of a better understanding in what we are trying to do but that comes with

The boss also took time out to praise striker Dan Maguire: “I thought the first goal was
very good,” he said, “It was a great move – probably one off the training ground which is
always nice and this system is bringing the best out of Dan (Maguire). He scored two at
Whitley Bay on Saturday – and he could have had three – and he’s made one tonight for
young Mason who I thought finished it off fantastically well then for our second goal
Scott Heslop has taken the shot on early and it’s taken a big deflection. Some of our
play was really good and we fashioned some really good chances and being super
critical we should have scored one or two more.”

He went on: “All of these pre season games which we play are geared around our start
to the campaign on August 5. It’s about minutes in people’s legs; getting the players up
to match sharpness; getting them to understand what we are asking them to do; getting
them to understand the structure whilst sticking to the process and the principals in
terms of how we are trying to play which is vastly different to how we played last year.
We just feel we have come up with a way of playing that suits the group; gets the best
out of them and at the minute with every game which goes by, it looks a little bit more
embedded. We have got a group of talented footballers and historically if you go back
over the seasons since I returned to the club, I have always looked to try and recruit
talented footballers because of some of my philosophies and beliefs in how I would like
to play the game.”

He concluded: “All in all it was a fantastic work out and I say a big thank you to
Bedlington – who I thought were excellent. They tried to play the game in the right way
which is pleasing to see and it was a very worthwhile exercise.”