By Brian Bennett

Ashington have been handed ‘tough’ away ties in the early stages of both the Emirates FA Cup and Isuzu FA Trophy competitions.

In the FA Cup, the Colliers will travel to face Ebac Northern League first division side Shildon in the extra preliminary round on Saturday August 3 with the winners hosting West Auckland or Bishop Auckland.

In the FA Trophy, the Wansbeck side face a lengthy journey to take on Congleton Town in the preliminary round on Saturday August 24. The victors will have home advantage as they play Wythenshawe in the first qualifying round.

Ashington FC joint head coach Andy Coyles gave his reaction when he said: “They are two very good but tough draws. We have been a tad unlucky. I believe it was our football secretary Gav Perry who told me that out of 170 plus teams, only 28 get to play an extra preliminary tie and we are one of those! However one of the plus points is if we progress it is not only good for team morale but also financially good for the football club.”

He continued: “Shildon are a really tough outfit – they were only two games away last season from joining us in our league and they have a really good, well skilled, well qualified and experienced management team. The winners will have the incentive of a home tie against West Auckland or Bishop Auckland and that will be an interesting fixture because I think West – who I was impressed with after they beat us 4-2 on Saturday – will give Bishops a really good run for their money.”

He went on: “The Congleton game in the Trophy is quite a nice one for me. It’s the town next to Alsager where I spent 13 years of my life so I know the area – and the team – well and they did themselves proud in getting promoted last year. I think it’s a distance of 191 miles from Ashington – but we’ll do what we normally do. Last year we travelled really well as a team and a lot of our better results were on the road so I’d like to think we can keep that mentality and that attitude with again the incentive being a home tie in the next round. However it now feels real – it feels as if the new season is upon us and it’s exciting.”