By Brian Bennett
After Ashington climbed up to mid table in the Pitching In Northern Premier League’s East Division following a 2-1 win over Pontefract Collieries on Saturday, manager Ian Skinner revealed that it was a ‘collective management decision’ – to make slight alterations on the park – which paid dividends.
Within minutes of making the changes, the Colliers romped into a two goals lead with Craig Spooner and Wilson Kneeshaw on target and the boss said afterwards: “As a management team, we got our heads together and decided to alter one or two things. Sometimes they work for you and sometimes they don’t. Today they have and helped us to get a positive result. It was a collective management decision – but it’s the players who carry out those instructions.”
Skinner continued: “I was delighted with three points at home because we probably haven’t won enough games at Woodhorn Lane this season if the truth be known. It was a difficult but great occasion too as we paid tribute to the late Sir Bobby Charlton. The public turned out; there were lots of red around the stadium and a fantastic minute’s applause was held. Sir Bobby was a true humble gentleman – and to win in front of our fans and some people who may have been visiting the ground for the very first time was great. We talk in this league about needing to put positive runs of results together because it moves you up the table relatively quickly and today we replicated what was a really good performance and good win at Winterton.”
Skinner reflected on the first 45 minutes: “With all the rain we had, the pitch was challenging,” he said, “Consequently, the way we try and play was always going to be difficult on that surface and we needed to do all of our best work as early as we could before the pitch cut up and got a little bit worse. I thought the opening half was pretty even and pretty uneventful with not a lot of chances. Pontefract got into some good areas and have put some good balls into our box but we defended really well and a 0-0 score line was probably a fair reflection of a first half where we sussed each other out a little bit.”
He added: “Second half I thought they (Pontefract) started a little bit brighter than us and were maybes in the ascendancy – and that’s why we made the changes. Almost immediately we fashioned two fantastic opportunities for Craig Spooner and Wilson Kneeshaw to score then we had a spell where we were in control and should have added more. I thought we had a really strong case for a penalty on Connor Thomson followed by a fantastic move where we have played the ball inside to Connor (Thomson) and he’s hit the post. Another good move – albeit at 2-1 late in the game – and Craig (Spooner) has hit the woodwork. But it wouldn’t be Ashington if we didn’t make it a little bit exciting and fair play because it was some finish for their goal by Adam Haw. The ball has dropped to him and he’s put it right into the top corner and that obviously leads to a little bit of a un nervy end to the game – but we saw it out and I was delighted with the three points.”
He went on: “When you break it down into simple terms and go through our 1-16, I think we had lots of players who had a good game and if you have that, it means you tend to win games of football matches and I think that was true today. I don’t want to single anyone out because I think there were eight or nine lads who were excellent. Now we’ve got to put the result to one side; work hard in training this week and prepare for our away trip to face Grantham on Saturday.”