By Brian Bennett
Ashington FC goalkeeper Ross Coombe has said he will savour what was a dramatic five days in his footballing career.
Coombe – who has competed with Karl Dryden for the number one jersey – made his first appearance for the club in the 5-1 win over Newcastle University in the Newcastle Flooring Northumberland Senior Cup back in September. He was again included in the Ashington side which reached the semi finals of the competition last week following a 1-0 win over West Allotment Celtic.
Coombe – who is based in Consett – made crucial saves in the closing minutes of the cup tie and was handed his league debut in Saturday’s NPL East Division away clash at Grimsby Borough.
The Colliers were ahead 2-1 when the Durham-born ‘keeper saved a penalty with just over quarter of an hour remaining before the Colliers saw out the game: “If anybody had asked me to write down what would be my ideal week in football – this past week would have been it!” said a delighted Coombe, “It was a too good to be true kind of few days and I was delighted.”
Coombe kept out Harvey Tomlinson’s right footed spot kick and added: “You go with your instincts and luckily I went the right way. The penalty save was important because if they had scored it would have made it 2-2 and the game would have been different.”
The 24 year old – a ground worker – continued: “It’s mentally draining working all week then travelling on a Saturday and midweek but that’s the commitment you make in football. Now my target is to stay in the side.”
Ashington boss Ian Skinner said: “Ross is a great character around the place. If I’m being uber-critical, the one thing which we have spoken to him about is to take his football a little bit more seriously. I don’t mean that in a bad way – it’s just his character is lively and bubbly. Ross has been really, really patient – he’s played two cup games and then today made his first league start since joining the club in the summer. I thought he was excellent. He got his opportunity on Tuesday night and didn’t put a foot wrong and made a fantastic save late in the game to see us through the tie and again today he has replicated his performance and made a great save from a penalty.”
He continued: “We have two slightly different goalkeepers at the club in terms of Karl Dryden who has got experience and comes and takes crosses and whose reflexes are good whereas Ross is a little bit more comfortable with the ball at his feet and his reflexes are really, really good too. He’s had two fantastic games and long may that continue because it’s a vital and critical position in a game of football (Goalkeeper). For Ashington to have two goalkeepers as good as we have got fighting and supporting each other for the jersey is great to see. Ross has bided his time and come to games and warmed Karl up – now its Karl’s turn to look after Ross and make sure he prepares pre-game properly. They are both good lads who support each other and are pleased for each other and we are just blessed to have two first class goalkeepers.”
Skinner admitted that he was faced with having to make a difficult decision in Lincolnshire on Saturday: “We looked to give Ross a game in the cup match (against West Allotment Celtic) which we had done earlier in the season when we played Newcastle University,” he said, “However because of his performance level, it would have been really difficult to turn to Ross on Saturday and say ‘I’m leaving you out’ – but then its really difficult to turn to Karl Dryden and say ‘we took you out on Tuesday without any fault and because Ross has done so well, you’ve suffered in terms of it would be difficult to take him back out.’ We are just fortunate to have two lads who I reckon are probably the best goalkeeping department in the league.”