By Brian Bennett
Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner spoke of his frustration and disappointment after his side drew 2-2 against Grantham Town on Saturday.
The boss said: “My initial reaction is one of frustration and disappointment if I’m honest. I thought we started the game really bright and really quick. We moved the ball really well and could have scored in the opening minute then we got a penalty on five minutes to go 1-0 up. I’ll watch the veo recording back but I don’t think Grantham touched the ball many times in the opening five minutes prior to that goal and I thought we were really going to be ‘at it’ today. However sometimes we’ve got this little knack whereby if things are working really well for us, we start and over complicate matters. We try and make it more difficult for ourselves – and we allowed Grantham to come back into the game a little bit.”
He continued: “There were two teams on the park today with contrasting styles but there’s more than one way to play football. In Sam Muggleton, Grantham had a very potent weapon in their side. His long throws from the half way line were reaching the back post but I thought first half we defended it really, really well. We had a massive chance to go 2-0 up with again a fantastic move and fantastic football, Wilson Kneeshaw got in down the side and cut it (the ball) back to Connor Thomson six yards out and he just had to put the ball in the net. I don’t know if Connor has tried to hit it too hard but he’s put it over the bar and I think if we’d scored that would have been game over. We came in holding a 1-0 lead and if I had been in the opposition dugout, I would have been delighted to get in only a single goal behind.”
He went on: “Second half we started super bright and within the first minute we put together a great move. Connor Thomson got in behind and Wilson Kneeshaw has played it to Craig Spooner who cuts inside and hits the post. The goalkeeper is looking to see if the ball has gone in the net and it lands in his hands! If we score to go 2-0 up, I think we make it a comfortable afternoon. Then we concede from a long throw – albeit we’ve defended them really, really well. Jordan Summerly has chested the ball at the back post – I’m not sure what else he could have done – then turned into their player who has smashed the ball into the roof of the net to make it 1-1. But what a reaction as we scored direct from kick off. It was another good move featuring good passing out wide, a cross into the box and they (Grantham) have turned the ball into their own net although we had two or three players waiting to tap it in.”
He added: “Grantham’s threat was set plays and throw ins and again I just thought we could have been a little bit better with the ball. We put one and two passes together but I thought we went too long too early at times. Albeit we were having a little bit of joy with the ball in behind because of the pace we had upfront. Then the game changes a little bit on a tackle on the edge of the box and I’m not sure for me if it was a red. That was my initial reaction but it’s a challenge which Paul Van-Zandvliet didn’t need to make. Having said that, it was a tackle that was no different to two or three other challenges in the game.”
Despite the numerical disadvantage, Skinner applauded the efforts from his players: “I was disappointed with the second goal we conceded because we haven’t cleared our lines on the edge of the box,” he said, “but despite being down to ten (players) we went for it. I left two up top because I thought if we could continue to string passes together we would cause them all sorts of problems – and we did. To be fair there were a couple of little scrambles in the box but if you had walked into the stadium and been told one side were playing with ten men, you wouldn’t have picked us. In injury time we probably had two or three good half chances, so on reflection it was quite an eventful afternoon. Some of our play today was excellent where we have created chances but missed them at the crucial time to go 2-0 up. We hit the post which would probably have killed the game off but I’ve got to give the lads great credit for the resilience which they showed after Paul Van-Zandvliet had been sent off. I would have hated to be in our back four today to be honest having to deal with the long throws for 90 minutes but the lads defended manfully except for two little lapses in concentration with half mistakes which have cost us goals.”
He concluded: “Nevertheless the result keeps our little unbeaten run going which is good. We’ll train twice this week and look towards a tough game on Saturday at home against Carlton Town who are doing really well.”