By Brian Bennett | Photo: Ian Brodie
Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner – after seeing his sides’ unbeaten run of five matches ended by Liversedge on Saturday – has thrown down a new challenge to his playing squad.
Goals by Joe Walton and Alex Wollerton gave the visitors a 2-0 victory in Wansbeck but the boss said afterwards: “Obviously I’m disappointed that our good run has come to an end. It was going to end at some point but we didn’t want it to be today especially with us being at home and after having had such a good performance on the road last week (at North Ferriby). It would have been nice to have put on a good showing but it wasn’t to be. We’ve been fantastic but now my challenge to the lads is to get back on the horse and start a new run – and see if we can extend it beyond five matches this time.”
Skinner thought there was nothing between the sides in the first half on Saturday: “I thought it was pretty even,” he said, “They (Liversedge) had a couple of opportunities to take the lead including when out ‘keeper Karl Dryden has made a little bit of an error with a poor clearance but we have defended brilliantly to get back on the line – and then we’ve had a couple of chances ourselves. The goalkeeper (Jordan Porter) has made a comfortable save at his near post from Connor Thomson then we’ve had a great little move where Wilson Kneeshaw has hit the crossbar.”
Ashington conceded in stoppage time and Skinner said: “I was really disappointed with the goal we conceded because I thought it was avoidable,” he said, “It came in the fifth minute of three minutes minimum to be added on. I thought as the ball is dropping out of the sky maybes if Ben (Williams) and Karl (Dryden) had communicated, I think we could have played it back to Karl. Ben sliced the clearance for a throw in which I thought we defended really well but we put it out for a corner. Karl has come to catch the corner and not quite got there and after a header by Walton, the assistant judges that the ball has gone over the line. So to go in 1-0 down right on half time was disappointing.”
Skinner was mystified as to why Wilson Kneeshaw had an effort ruled out ten minutes after the break: “I thought we started the second half quite brightly and had a couple of good opportunities,” he added, “For me, we’ve scored a perfectly good goal which I think has been ruled out for offside – and if was, I can’t explain why. I’ll watch it back on the veo but I’ll be gobsmacked if Wilson Kneeshaw (who netted) is offside. It was a big turning point in the game because if the goal had stood it would have made it 1-1.”
He continued: “We pushed bodies forward to try and get back into the game and we‘ve been caught again with a bit of a poor goal of the counter attack – but I take responsibility for that because I asked lads to push forward in their numbers. We need to keep playing the way we play and to stick to our principals as well as processes and our philosophy of when we go behind in a game because what is happening at the moment is becoming a little bit of an achilles heel for us. I know it’s difficult. Liversedge executed a classic away performance where they went 1-0 up and sat a little bit deeper. They let us have the ball and invited us to come onto them and see if they could hit us on the counter attack which they have done. They will say they had a plan and it was ‘job done’ and that’s fair enough. I just think that sometimes when the game runs into the latter stages when we are behind, we sacrifice a little bit of our short sharp incisive passing and our combination play in and around the penalty area and whether we get nervous or try and force things a little bit it doesn’t quite suit us. However, we’ll train hard this week and prepare for our away trip to face Grimsby Borough on Saturday.”