By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner expressed ‘mixed emotions’ after the Colliers 4-1 defeat at the hands of promotion hopefuls Dunston UTS on Saturday and added that ‘big decisions’ didn’t go in his sides favour.

A fine strike by skipper Karl Ross cancelled out Jack Maskell’s opener before Michael Pearson put the home side back in front just past the half hour mark.

The Wansbeck side were well in the game but as they continued to search for an equaliser, UTS clinched the points with late counters from David Robinson plus an own goal.

Skinner said afterwards: “Today was a day of mixed emotions because there was so much to be pleased about – yet there was so much that I’m disappointed about. Certainly UTS were more ruthless than us – they possibly only had four or five shots on target and scored four goals – the last one is an own goal – whereas in the first half we’ve had three or four really good chances but haven’t taken them plus big decisions didn’t go our way today.”

Skinner believed his side should have been awarded an early penalty: “I thought we started the game quite brightly and could and should have had a penalty,” he said, “Connor Thomson has gone through and taken a shot and it’s gone beyond the goalkeeper (Dan Staples). The ball is going towards the goal but Connor’s had to hurdle the ‘keeper who has come flying out which prevents him from getting to the ball to tap it in and allows their recovering defender to get to the ball and clear it – so that was a big decision which went against us. The laws of the game tell you that there doesn’t have to be contact – it’s the intention.”

Ashington went behind in the 14th minute before drawing level and Skinner added: “I was disappointed with the goal we conceded in terms of we didn’t get out quick enough to Sado Djalo who has hit a fantastic shot. Obviously we haven’t reacted when Maskell has knocked the ball into the net but some of my boys are saying they thought it was offside although I couldn’t comment having just seen it in live play. However, the goal we scored through Karl Ross was really good. We got in down their right hand side on a number of occasions in the first half and some of our link up play in and around the box was good and that led to a great strike from Karl (Ross) for the equaliser.”

Six minutes later, the Colliers were behind again – and Skinner could not hide his feelings: “The second goal we conceded was really annoying,” he said, “It came from our free-kick on half way where we gave the ball away. They (Dunston) have then attacked us and even though we’ve won the ball back in and around our penalty area we’ve hit our own player trying to clear it and before you know it, the ball has ended up in the net. We’re 2-1 down, despite the hard work we’d put in to get back in the game and also the bright 10-15 minutes we had causing them problems down their right hand side.”

Skinner believed his side could bounce back after the break: “Did I think we could hit back? – most definitely,” he added, “We talked about one or two things which we needed to be careful of because they (Dunston) play forward quickly. We spoke about areas where we could hopefully entice them to come into – then exploit some space that they would leave by drawing them into certain areas of the pitch. We did it at times but I just thought they defended their box really well. Second half we dominated the ball and territory and we got into some good areas and there were some really pleasing parts to our game. Some of our approach play and build up play was excellent but they (Dunston) managed to get in blocks and defended their box really well.”

He continued: “The fourth goal is disappointing. We probably had the stuffing knocked out of us with the third (goal) and you just think ‘let’s keep things right’ – but again we’d just been a little bit weak and their lad hasn’t even chased it thinking ‘I’m not going to get on the end of it.’ We’ve gone to stab it clear and stabbed it in our own net and it probably summed up our day. To be fair the top end of the pitch we were attacking in the second half didn’t suit Connor Thomson or Wilson Kneeshaw’s running style. It was very, very heavy – but listen it’s that time of year and with the weather we’ve had, it’s just good to get games on.”