By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner was delighted on Saturday night after his side had
made a great start to the new season.

Skinner’s outfit were convincing in their 4-0 win over North Shields in the Emirates FA
Cup extra preliminary round clash at Woodhorn Lane with goals coming from Cameron
Gascoigne, Craig Spooner and two from Wilson Kneeshaw.

The boss wore a broad smile afterwards and said: “It was a really pleasing performance.
There’s always a little bit of trepidation when you go into the actual first competitive
game of the season and as North Shields had played a competitive game the previous
week, they were slightly ahead of us. However, I feel as if our pre season has gone
really well to be honest. Playing Morpeth and Workington in recent weeks were two
really good tests then we managed to play a bit of an in-house game on Tuesday night
just to top up everybody’s minutes and get us raring to go.”

Skinner revealed that he thought things ‘clicked’ even ahead of the kick off: “My
assistant Andy Coyles said it was the best warm up he had seen in his time here and it
just felt as if we were ready to go,” he added, “Our start to the game was really bright
and from the first whistle we looked to dominate the ball and create chances and I
thought for the first 10-15 minutes we were the better side. One or two people had been
making some noises – not necessarily within the squad – but from outside that we hadn’t
scored in the last couple of pre season friendlies so to get an early goal – which always
helps – settled everybody down a little bit.”

He continued: “However following the goal, I thought we lost our way a little bit and after
everything we had done really well to get a foothold in the game, we just dropped off a
little bit and probably started playing a little bit more direct than I would have liked. We
allowed Shields to have a little sneak and a sniff but then we got back on the front foot
and the second goal was a big plus. It was a great ball from Dan Maguire and I was
thrilled to bits for Wilson (Kneeshaw) who has come in at the 11 th hour. Scott Heslop
wasn’t available today and Wilson – who trained with us last week – was thrown straight
in. He hadn’t played a lot of football recently but I thought he took his goal really well and
that was probably a little flashback to the partnership which he had a few years ago with
Dan (Maguire) at Blyth Spartans – Maguire playing in Wilson to score.”

He went on: “We came in 2-0 up and it’s one of those score lines where the next goal is
huge because if North Shields get it and it goes to 2-1 its game on – whereas if we get it
then you’d like to think that at 3-0 we would see the game through. I thought we started
the second half brilliantly with some of our one and two touch play fantastic and it led to
us scoring a goal within the first 90 seconds. Then you think ‘let’s just manage the game
and look after the ball’ – and we did that. We added a fourth (goal) and made
substitutions and we’ve also asked one or two players to play in different positions that
are not really natural to them but if I’m being super critical of the lads I thought we got
really sloppy towards the end of the game. That’s something we’ll need to look at
because the level we are going into, if we get sloppy certainly in and around our own
defensive third with under hit passes, on another day we will not get away with it.
Therefore we need to brush up on it and make sure that we keep our standards right
throughout the 90 minutes.”