By Brian Bennett | Photo: Ian Brodie

The strong westerly wind which blew down the Woodhorn Lane ground turned Saturday’s clash between Ashington and Grantham Town into a dour tussle.

The contest was decided by Elliot Walker’s 73rd minute strike for the visitors – but Ashington’s performance came under fire from manager Ian Skinner who said: “We looked like a team that need the end of the season if the truth be known and if we don’t give ourselves a shake, it’ll be a very, very disappointing end to the season – and one which we’d look back on as underachieving if we were to finish towards the bottom end of the table. I’ve given them (the players) a little flea in their ear – some of them might not like it – but they need to step up now for the last four league games and show that a) it means something to them and b) that they want to be here next season regardless of what happens.”

He continued: “Our performance today was disappointing, frustrating and annoying. Conditions were similar to when we played against Grimsby a few weeks ago. With the wind we were too loose in possession; gave the ball away to easily and to cheaply; we didn’t move it (the ball) quick enough and were quite pedestrian in our play at times. We played to long and to early – and to often instead of building our play and progressing with controlled possession into the final third to then create shooting opportunities in and around the penalty area.”

However the boss was furious over the goal which decided the contest: “The second half was similar,” he said, “I thought we had a little spell where we played out under difficult conditions, secured the ball and had a couple of half chances. However, the thing which has annoyed me the most is the goal which we conceded. It’s a goal which was very similar to ones we have conceded in recent weeks – and it’s a goal that I keep telling the players time and time again about second contacts. It’s from a corner where Simon Jakab’s fantastic first header has dropped to the Grantham number seven in the box and we’ve got three players around him who all stood and don’t move. He (Elliot Walker) steps forward and strikes the ball and not one of my players move and the ball goes into the far corner of the net. We talk about putting your body on the line and defending the box as if it means something – well it didn’t happen today and it hasn’t for the last few weeks because that’s time and time again now on a second contact in the box the opposition are first and we are not willing to go and put our bodies on the line to block a shot.”

Just past the quarter hour mark, Connor Thomson had a goal chalked off and Skinner said: “The goal we had disallowed for offside was very, very tight but our play was just too slow. They (Grantham) were looking for points and fair play to them because against the wind they came and defended deep and looked to hit us on the counter attack. But what we have then got to do is to recognise that, so on transition to attack, we’ve got to play quick but we didn’t. We played to slow and slowed the play down. We went back to our goalkeeper far to often and that allowed them to get set in their shape behind the ball which then becomes difficult to break down. So we needed to play quicker and more positively and we needed to look forward and be willing to run forward – but I don’t think we did that anywhere near enough in the first half.”