By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner was faced with a dilemma of being happy or upset
when he conducted his postmatch press conference after Saturday’s 4-4 draw against
Brighouse Town.

The Colliers – on their return to the Northern Premier League after a period of 55 years
– were 4-2 down as the game entered stoppage time but in a dramatic finale, fought
back for a point after goals from debutant Charlie Exley and Darren Lough.

Whilst Skinner was naturally delighted that his side had fought back to take something
out of the game he was nevertheless furious that they had leaked four goals – hence the
dilemma: “I thought there were lots of aspects of our performance to be pleased with in
terms of the possession we had with the ball; our approach play was good; our entry in
and around the final third was also good as we got in on a number of occasions but we
probably didn’t threaten their goal as much as we would have liked,” he said, “However
what I’m really, really unhappy with is the manner of all four goals which we conceded.
Three are from set plays and we’ll need to learn quickly because news will sharp get
around the league. Set plays are now a massive part of football. They have a big
influence on the outcome of games so we’ll definitely be looking to be better at
defending our box because it wasn’t acceptable today. Then you can’t legislate for an
individual error in terms of giving the ball away to their centre forward and putting him
clean through with just the ‘keeper to beat – but mistakes are part of the game and we
need to eradicate them and minimalise them. We’ll look at them and work on them

because if we had defended our box better today we would have won the game
comfortably and I don’t mean that disrespectfully to Brighouse.”

He continued: “I suppose you’ve got to look at the other end of the spectrum in terms of
us being 4-2 down with the game not really going anywhere. Brighouse have ‘dropped
in’ to try and hold onto what they had and we’ve moved the ball without really hurting
them too much. We’ve introduced a couple of subs late on and have mixed our game up
a little bit and played short and direct football – and I think we’ve got to give some credit
to the lads who came on because I did think they influenced the game. It was nice to
see Max Emmerson on the pitch in a competitive fixture after being out for so long. I
thought he showed some enthusiasm and a desire to want to get on the ball and get
forward. Scott Heslop came on and made life difficult for their back four and he just
allows us at times to play a little bit more direct if we need to. I thought Scott won some
vital headers and some first contacts and he disturbed the Brighouse back four a little bit
who hadn’t really had to cope with that. All of a sudden they had to deal with us being
able to play more direct and again the willing runners off Scott (Heslop)got a lease of life
knowing that we were actually winning a first ball up top so they might get onto the
second contact.”

He went on: “The referee added nine minutes on which I think is going to be a regular
feature this season and if somebody had said to me that we’d score two late goals on 92
and 97 minutes and draw the game 4-4, I would have taken that. Brighouse tried to be
difficult to break down but thankfully we showed excellent spirit to keep going to the end so I must applaud the players for that and it’s a point gained given the situation we
found ourselves in in the 92 nd minute.”