By Brian Bennett
Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner was far from downbeat when he emerged from the dressing room following his sides 2-0 defeat by Pitching In NPL East Division leaders Stockton Town on Saturday.
A goal in each half by Michael Fowler and substitute Tom Portas saw the Anchors complete a seasons double over the Colliers but Skinner said: “Stockton are a good side and you can see why they are favourites to win the league. However there were loads to be pleased about with our performance and the difference between the two sides today was that they were just a bit more clinical than us.”
Fowler put his side ahead after seven minutes and Skinner said: “We didn’t start particularly well – they began much brighter than us and went 1-0 up quite early. It was a really poor goal to concede and if you are going to come to somewhere like Stockton where you are up against a very good side, to get anything from the game, you need to defend better. It had us rocking and they (Stockton) were certainly on top for the first 20-25 minutes. We probably rode our luck at times then we started to grow into the game a little bit. For the last 20 minutes of the first half, I thought we caused them all sorts of problems where we got in behind with the pace we had and whether it was a marginal offside decision; the weight of the pass or maybes just delaying the pass a second too long but we couldn’t quite get that final ball right.”
The boss added that the half time team talk was very constructive: “There were lots of positives to discuss,” he said, “We talked about taking the game to Stockton in the second half because we felt we could cause them problems – and we certainly did that. We started far brighter; we had a couple of good chances in the first couple of minutes then we dominated large periods – if not all – of the second half. But when you have those periods where you are on top, you need something to show for it. Then a little bit of a poor clearance from us and they’ve picked it up and played a great ball forward and it’s a fantastic finish by Tom Portas to be fair.”
He went on: “That knocked the stuffing out of us but I still thought we stuck to our game plan, kept playing and had a couple of half chances. However my two biggest gripes are the poor first goal we conceded and that we probably didn’t have enough efforts on target to work their goalkeeper.”