By Brian Bennett
Paul Van-Zandvliet bagged a brace on his home debut on Saturday as Ashington chalked up a 3-1 home win over Dunston UTS.
And afterwards, the 22 year old admitted that his second goal which arrived in the 54th minute ranks as one of the best in his career: “It’s a while since I last scored two goals in a game so that in itself was a pleasure,” he said afterwards, “We’re winning the game 2-1 and Ben Sampson has given me the ball and there’s not loads of pressure on me. I had to hit it really (the ball) and what a goal it was going into the top corner and it’s definitely one of my best ever.”
That strike may have put the cherry on the cake but the North Shields-born midfielder had also given his side the lead in the ninth minute: “It was good play from the lads,” he said, “Nathan Buddle played the ball to Simon Yakab who moved it on to Matty Dopson who advanced up the pitch. I made a deep run from midfield and Matty has played an unbelievable pass to slide me in. I then took a touch and just smashed it in. It was good to get a goal on my first home game in front of all the fans, the lads, the management, the club and everyone and I was happy.”
However, the Colliers had to be fully switched on as they played out the final 35 minutes with nine men after Buddle and Yakab had both received their marching orders: “We had something to protect,” added Van-Zandvliet who is an electrical engineer, “so in a way it was good that we had had to do it the other night at Newton Aycliffe with nine men. We had to stay nice and narrow and compact and the attitude of the lads was first class – every single one of them. They put their heart and soul into it and wore the badge on the sleeve – and got the three points which I thought we deserved today.”
Van-Zandvliet joined Ashington from North Shields where he played for five years and he said: “I’d like to place on record my thanks to North Shields because my time there was unbelievable. They paved the way for me and gave me a chance and special mention to Marc Nash, Anthony Woodhouse and Steve Swinyard. Now it’s a new chapter in my footballing career and what a way to start. Credit to manager Ian Skinner, Andy Coyles, Ritchie Hill and all the lads as they have made it really easy for me to settle in. Everyone knows that Ashington are an unbelievable club with a great set up; stadium; pitch and fans and it’s a pleasure and an honour to come and play for the club.”
Van-Zandvliet said following Saturday’s win that the dressing room is ‘buzzing’. “To play against Dunston, go down to nine men and win 3-1 – what a way to get your first win,” he added, “The lads are buzzing in the changing rooms and this is a good chance for us to go on a little run – we know what it takes and now its all about consistency.”