By Brian Bennett | Photo: Ian Brodie

Wilson Kneeshaw’s 11th goal of the season punctured Belper’s hopes of going second top of the Pitching In Northern Premier League East Division on Tuesday night as Ashington won a tight contest 1-0.

And afterwards, Colliers boss Ian Skinner paid tribute to both sides: “It was a great result for us,” he said, “Obviously it means that we have now put back to back home wins together which is good – and that’s what we asked for. We hadn’t played since our 4-0 victory over Hebburn Town on Boxing Day and went into the game against Belper on the back of a really positive home performance – and we wanted to follow that up with another (positive performance.) I have to feel for Belper travelling up to Ashington on a Tuesday night and we referenced that to the lads in terms of how early they would have had to set off from Derbyshire and could we start really bright and try and use that to our advantage. Overall, I thought it was two pretty well matched teams throughout the 90 minutes with a little bit of individual brilliance for the goal by Wilson Kneeshaw the difference.”

He continued: “We came in 1-0 up at half time and we talked about managing the ball; trying to invite them (Belper) to come and have to press us which would leave spaces for us to try and exploit them to add to our tally. However, I thought they slightly shaded the second half as we didn’t seem to really hit our straps or keep the ball as well as we can. Sometimes we demand a lot from the lads – we have got high standards – whereby we want perfect performances and perfect results but that can’t always be the case. I think what we have done tonight is to win a little bit ugly in the end when we haven’t been at our best – and that is something which I have criticised the group for previously. We turned in a disappointing performance but I certainly thought the lads dug in, battled and scrapped and managed to take the three points.”

He added: “Belper are a good side. I thought they were well organised and they tried to move the ball well in the first period then second half they’ve looked to press us a little bit high and push more numbers forward. However, we seem to be the only team in this league that haven’t got somebody who can throw the ball the width of the pitch. It was something which we had to deal with and we stood up and were counted. Belper had a couple of good chances and they’ll probably think they deserved something from the game but we had a couple of opportunities too. Their ‘keeper (Daniel Moore) has made a good save from Wilson (Kneeshaw) with his foot and then he was on hand again to deny Wilson right at the end when they were pushing bodies forward.”

Skinner added: “Oli Thompson and Will Constantin have both been recalled by Gateshead but we are not looking to bring anybody in which means we are working with a slightly reduced squad in terms of numbers. I’m not someone who looks to bring players in frequently anyway so the group that we have got now will be the group we will look to work with from now until the end of the season – unless of course something comes out of the blue which we think will improve us. However, I think this group of players deserve to see the season through; look to maintain their good form on the pitch and see where they can take the club.”