By Brian Bennett
Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner was cock-a hoop after watching his side pick up a 2-1 victory over Stocksbridge Park Steels to claim their first league win of the season.
Reflecting on the performance in South Yorkshire, the boss described the win as being ‘vitally important’ – but that the points could and should have been sealed early doors.
“We have got our first win under our belts which was vitally important because albeit performances have been very good but we hadn’t got possibly the results we deserved from those other games,” he said, “so it was vitally important that we tried to get a win on the board as soon as we could. I thought we started the game really brightly and to be honest, the contest should have been over by the first 15 minutes. We’ve scored a brilliant goal following a good passage of play where we were patient and looked after the ball and worked it out wide to Oli Thompson, He has jinked inside – which we know he can do – then delivered a great ball to the back post and Charlie Exley has nodded it in. Following that, we’ve had two massive chances with Wilson (Kneeshaw) through one on one. He’s had a little bit of a stuttery touch on the first one which allowed the ‘keeper to get really close to him and smother it out and then for the second, it’s a great run by Wilson and a super through ball in behind. Wilson is through again and he bends it around the ‘keeper but it goes just the wrong side of the post – but really that should have been game over.”
He continued: “Two minutes after that we find ourselves hauled back to ones each and it’s frustrating. However, that’s the difference with the league we have moved into because if you make mistakes, you get punished and we need to have that bit of a killer instinct really. In similar respects to the match against Stockton last week, after Stocksbridge equalised, they came into the game and we lost our way a little bit so everything we had done really, really well in the opening quarter of an hour, we struggled to do. We became loose and sloppy in possession; we gave the ball away cheaply and they had a couple of half decent chances – albeit we always looked dangerous on the break.”
Skinner talked about the word ‘confidence’: “I was really disappointed how we started the second half,” he added, “Stocksbridge certainly came out the better outfit and if the truth be know, we scored our second against the run of play. Again Wilson (Kneeshaw) dropped into that little pocket of space and played a great ball in behind for Mason Hardy who finished it off well. Then confidence comes oozing back and what we have got to remember is that we are a relatively young side. When they (Stocksbridge) got the penalty in the first half to equalise, our confidence drained a little bit but when we scored the goal to go back in front, the confidence came back and they (the players) wanted the ball again and we had a couple of spells whereby we kept possession well.” He went on: “Stocksbridge were a constant threat from set plays – an aspect which is a massive part of this league we have gone into. Teams look to utilise it and we are not the biggest or physically the strongest side so I was pleased with the way we defended those set plays and managed the game out really. It made our journey home easier with a ‘W’ (win) in the column and if we can follow that up with another ‘W’ on Monday (against Consett), then all of a sudden two wins on the board makes it a real positive start to the season.”