By Brian Bennett | Photo: Ian Brodie

Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner – far from happy after seeing his side slide to a 2-0 defeat against Liversedge on Saturday – said that he was disappointed for the Ashington supporters who had travelled to Cleckheaton.

The reverse was the Colliers’ fourth in their last five matches and Skinner added that his outfit could finish the campaign underachieving: “It was a bit of an end of season dead rubber,” he commented afterwards, “I thought in terms of the first half, there wasn’t a lot in the contest. Neither side had control of the game; chances were limited and neither ‘keeper was really forced into making a save of any great note. Liversedge had little spells where they had the ball – then we had the same. A bit of a turning point came on the stroke of half time where Mason Hardy has challenged for a ball and their defender (Dan Hartley) has reacted and ended up getting a red card.”

He continued: “Second half we have a numerical advantage but playing against ten men can be dangerous. Physiologically they (Liversedge) know they have to work as hard as they possibly can because they are a man light and physiologically we maybes sometimes think we have got an extra player so we might not need to work as hard – and to me that was evident in the second half. We had lots of the ball but didn’t pass it quick enough; didn’t move them quick enough and allowed them to get into shape.”

Skinner dissected the two goals which his side conceded: “For the first it was a couple of individual errors with a ball over the top,” he said, “We missed the header and the ball has gone through. Our ‘keeper (Karl Dryden) has come out but their attacker has got to the ball before him and Karl has caught him and from the penalty they lead 1-0. If you think they’ve got to work extra hard because they are down to ten men at 0-0, if you give them a 1-0 lead, it gives them something to hang on to and they fight even harder. Again that was evident. We had lots of the ball and they (Liversedge) dropped into a low block. We pushed forward but conceded a really poor second goal on the counter attack allowing Kwame Boateng to cut inside. He cut past one then another and produced a great finish into the top corner – but we shouldn’t have allowed that to happen. The second half was really frustrating. Credit to Liversedge – they were better than us with ten men if the truth be known.”

The boss ‘felt’ for the travelling supporters: “I was disappointed for the fans who turned out in their droves as they always do,” he said, “The support – 70 plus – was unbelievable and we asked the players to take it into consideration whereby these people have given up their time and their weekend to support us so make sure you do them justice. Did we do that? I’m not sure we did.”

He added: “It’s really frustrating that the season seems to be petering out a little bit into what could end up being a season of slightly underachieving – albeit people will look at it and say we’ve been promoted to this level for the first time in 50 plus years and we’ve stayed up which is great. However, I just look at our results against the teams in the top half of the table and how well we’ve done against teams in the bottom half. If we had applied ourselves in the same way against teams in the bottom half as we had against the teams in and around us plus the top teams then we could possibly have been playing for a play off spot.”

Skinner has never used injuries as an excuse. On Saturday, he had to reckon without five players but his stance remained the same: “After the Winterton game on Tuesday I said that hopefully we had a clean bill of health – then Craig Spooner’s ankle blows up on the Wednesday morning and consequently we lose him for the away game at Hebburn and at Liversedge today,” he added, “We then lose Connor Thomson in the warm up today. He wasn’t right so we took no risks and pulled him out. Of that squad we had there today you look at being without Connor Thomson, Dan Maguire, Ben Sampson, Craig Spooner and Charlie Exley – there’s five names straight away who without being disrespectful to everybody else, would be in contention to be in the starting eleven. That’s not an excuse because it gives other lads an opportunity.”