By Brian Bennett

“We now have nine league games left and the challenge to the players is can we go through until the end of the season unbeaten.”

Understandably, Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner wore a broad smile on his face after seeing his side come out on top with a 3-2 victory over Consett on Saturday.

Now the boss has laid down a new challenge to his players – asking them if they can go through until the end of the campaign unbeaten.

“I was very happy with the result at Consett today,” said Skinner afterwards, “There were lots of parts of the performance to be pleased with yet there were a couple of things that frustrated me in terms of us being a little bit loose and slack. We got off to the perfect start being 1-0 up after 24 seconds. Without being disrespectful, for 40 minutes in that first period, we must have dominated the ball in and around the Consett penalty area and dominated territory whilst I think they probably got into our half on a handful of occasions. Albeit they did flash a shot wide of the post and then our ‘keeper Karl Dryden has made a very good save from their full back who has hit a long range drive but we just became a little bit too loose and slack with that final pass, making wrong decisions or taking shots on when it wasn’t the right situation. We almost tried to score with every attack instead of being a little bit more patient in the build up and making sure we fashioned a good opportunity. We knew Consett’s strengths were set plays. They are a big side and whilst it’s 1-0 in a game, it’s always finely in the balance and we were on the end of the perfect sucker punch right on half time. Karl Dryden has come and made a save from a corner and it’s dropped to Dan Capewell who has put it into the net.”

He continued: “At half time I was really frustrated that it was 1-1 given all of the domination we had had and then second half it was a little bit more even. We managed to go 2-1 up after we made a couple of substitutions. I thought we started to look a little bit leggy in terms of having travelled to Pontefract to play on Tuesday on a heavy pitch so we introduced a little bit of freshness – and both Cam Gascoigne and Charlie Exley who came on did really, really well to be fair. They combined for the second goal and you think ‘great – we are 2-1 up – can we get back to dominating the ball?’ But straight from kick off Consett have played a diagonal ball; we’ve headed it back inside and there’s been a great block but the ball has gone for a corner – one of their strengths. Karl (Dryden) has come for the ball and some people were saying he was fouled, I’m not sure – I would probably be upset if a decision was given against us in that situation. Karl has dropped it (the ball) and Capewell has bundled it into the net to make it 2-2. However, we kept going and got our just rewards – Connor (Thomson) scoring aided by a little bit of good fortune with a deflection which took the ball over the goalkeeper.”

He went on: “Even for the last five or six minutes I was just frustrated in terms of we’ve got to get on the ball and play – we went long and we are not a side who can play long. All that did was to invite Consett to keep sending the ball back in and they pushed the centre backs up. Thankfully we held on – and across the whole game we deserved the win. However, I am irritated because when we were on top in the first half we needed to be more ruthless and clinical. If we had been, the game would have been put to bed inside half an hour. But we’ve won which is the main thing. We now have nine league games left and the challenge to the players is can we go through until the end of the season unbeaten.”