Author: Gav Perry

STORM ARWEN WREAKS HAVOC AT FOOTBALL GROUND

By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC’s home match against Guisborough Town was called off on Saturday morning – after Storm Arwen had wreaked havoc on areas of the Woodhorn Lane ground.

Large parts of fencing were blown down whilst the home dugout – which had been secured to a concrete base – was lifted over the pitch barrier before resting near the main clubhouse entrance.

Ashington Football secretary Gav Perry said: “The Chairman and I arrived at the ground at around 7.30am to assess the situation after being informed of some damage within the ground but at the time we were not aware of the extent of the damage. On seeing the home dugout beside the turnstiles some 30 meters from where it should be, we immediately realised that the damage was going to be more than we initially expected. On a wider inspection of the ground, several sections of fencing were damaged including a 25-meter section being completely down as well as damage to the away dugout. We immediately knew that the safety of players, volunteers and spectators was our number one priority and that the game would not be able to go ahead in the afternoon.”

He continued: “As the winds were still very strong, it was impossible to fully assess the damage and works which would be needed, so we returned on Sunday to get a full picture of this. We have put the wheels in motion for some temporary measures to ensure we can continue to play matches at the ground, whilst permanent repairs are identified and planned in. We have also had several offers of support from our magnificent fans to support us with any clear up and repairs and we are hugely grateful for this. We will be in touch with those making offers of support as soon as we identify when we can get the repairs undertaken.”

Following Saturday’s postponement, Ashington have been informed of two fixtures changes. The home game against North Shields has been brought forward from March and will now be played on Tuesday January 4, 2022 whilst the clash with Guisborough Town at The dwmedia Stadium has been rescheduled for Saturday March 19. Meanwhile Ashington have been drawn away to Bishop Auckland in the Brooks Mileson Memorial League Cup after being given a bye in the first round. With the tie to be played in the midweek preceding February 19 it means the two sides will face each other twice in five days as they are due to meet in their Ebac Northern League first division clash at The dwmedia stadium the following Saturday.

SKINNER: “IT WAS FRUSTRATING AS WELL AS DISAPPOINTING”

By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner said the 4-0 away defeat at Crook Town on Saturday was frustrating as well as disappointing – especially as it came on the back of an inspired performance against Consett the previous week.

Ewan Forster was an early marksman for the Black & Ambers then Edward Thomas plus substitutes Kai Hewitson and Mason Hurworth added further goals in the second half.

Skinner said: “Frustrating and disappointing are the words which spring to mind – whilst after the Lord Mayor’s show is another term which is sometimes used. Everything which we did really well against Consett we didn’t do today if I’m honest. I don’t know whether the players have thought that because we’ve held the league leaders (Consett) 3-3, we just needed to come to Crook and things would happen for us – only this league isn’t like that. This league is built on working hard first and foremost and being willing to roll your sleeves up and battle and scrap – and today we were too easy to get at. In terms of all four goals which Crook have scored, they haven’t cut us open with good play nor has it been a bit of individual brilliance – it’s just been really easy for them and that’s despite us probably across the 90 minutes having more possession than them.”

He continued: “Crook have played what I would class as being a typical Northern League performance where they have looked to get the ball forward quickly; looked to get people around the ball quickly and looked to put the ball into the box quickly – everything which the Northern League has been built on for years whilst we have wanted to pass it (the ball) all the time without really creating too much. That said we have hit the woodwork twice in each half and the Crook ‘keeper (Ronan Makepeace) has made a couple of good saves in the second half.”

He went on: “It just felt as if when we got to the final third, there wasn’t really that cutting edge if I’m honest. I’m really disappointed – and hopefully the players will be too. All we can do is to put it to one side, train this week and prepare for Guisborough Townat home on Saturday (November 27).” Apart from Max Emmerson and Tom Bramley who remain sidelined, the boss should have an otherwise full squad to select from for the 3pm kick off against the Priorymen.

ASHINGTON AFC SUPPORT WANSBECK VALLEY FOOD BANK

Ashington AFC have supported the Wansbeck Valley Food Bank for a number of years now and once again are looking to help boost their supplies by running a food drive at our next home game against Guisborough Town on Saturday 27th November.

On the day, we will act as an extra collection point for the Food Bank and take in donation to forward on.

The Wansbeck Food Bank run a “reverse advent calendar” on the run up to Christmas, accepting donations to further support those families at need over the festive period in addition to the support they give throughout the whole year.

Donations of tinned or dried foodstuffs plus toiletries are essentials which everyone need, and are always gratefully received, whilst Christmas treats are also an added bonus for those who may need to use the service.

If any of our supporters feel that are in a position to make a donation, we will have a drop off area available at our game on Saturday 27th November, and we will then deliver the donations to the Wansbeck Valley Food Bank in the days after the match.

More information on the Wansbeck Valley Food Bank can be found on their website, Facebook and Twitter pages.

The Wansbeck Valley Food Bank is a Registered Charity No. 1177303

ASHINGTON TO BREAK WITH TRADITION

Since the early 20th Century, Ashington FC have played their home matches in their traditional colours of Black and White.

For our game against Newcastle United U23s in the Northumberland Senior Cup next month, we will however be breaking this tradition to wear our all blue away kit to promote the MNDA (Motor Neurone Disease Association), a charity close to the hearts of many at the club.

Club Chairman Brian Shotton commented “This organisation is very close to us all at the Football Club in memory of our dear friend Les Alderson who passed away in 2013. Personally, I also lost my Grandad to MND in 1998 so knew from a young age how devasting this illness is. It is a privilege for us to continue to raise awareness and funds for MNDA – their continued research, support for those living with MND and their families. We will look forward to the match and would love to see as many people turning out in blue as possible”

For every sale of our away shirt we donate £5 to the MNDA (Motor Neurone Disease Association) charity to aid their work and research into this debilitating disease.

On the evening, it would be great to have a sea of blue and orange shirts in the crowd, and shirts can be purchased from our online shop.

JOHNSON: “A GOAL WOULD HAVE BEEN THE CHERRY ON THE TOP”

By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC’s newest recruit, Adam Johnson was pleased with his debut in the 3-3 draw against Consett on Saturday – and revealed that had he scored, it would have topped the day off.

Johnson – who was signed from Blyth Town in midweek – had a hand in the first goal as the Colliers took the lead against the league leaders and he said afterwards: “Ashington are a really good club to be part of. They are very ambitious and the facilities here are great. I’ve enjoyed my first game and I was happy with the graft I put in – but I could have done a bit better with the chances which came my way and if I had scored that would have been the cherry on the top of the cake. However, I was delighted to be involved in the opening goal which was a great move down the right hand side when Max Cowburn and myself combined and led to a great header from Craig Spooner.”

Johnson – who has joined his home town club – continued: “It was a really good game to be part of today. It was hard work and a good battle but they are the best games and are great for the supporters to watch as well. We’ve definitely got the backing of the fans who were noisy today and I think the club can go a long way.”

The 24 year old striker caught the eye at the beginning of last month when he was part of a Blyth Town side who came so close to causing an upset in the Techflow Marine Northumberland Senior Cup – against Ashington – at The dwmedia Stadium on an awful wet and windy night in Wansbeck.

Johnson scored a double – one goal in either half – to put the second division side 2-0 in front but the Colliers went through after scoring three times in the final quarter hour with the winner coming in stoppage time.

“The game is still fresh in my mind,” said Blyth-based Johnson, who is a factory worker in Cramlington “but now I’ll be kicking my heels because I can’t play for Ashington in the quarter final against Newcastle under 23’s next month because I’m cup tied!”

Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner said: “I think AJ (Adam Johnson) should be pleased with his debut because I certainly would if I was in his shoes. We had a little decision pre game today against Consett about do we throw him straight into the side or do we ease him in. If I’m honest, he’s a centre forward and we’ve been playing a little bit without one so we thought ‘we’re at home and we’ve now got a centre forward so why have a one on the bench and not on the pitch’ – so we gave him the number nine shirt.” He continued: “Adam trained really well and looked sharp and what we saw in training we saw on the pitch today. He works tirelessly for the team; he’s always a threat; he’s quick and strong; he looks to run in behind; he chases things and I think he’ll be a good asset in terms of helping us stretch the opposition. Adam said he was a little bit disappointed with the chances he had – and on another day he might have scored – but as debuts go in terms of his endeavour, work rate, effort, application and the bit of quality he showed, he should be delighted. We took him off with 90+3 minutes on the clock and part of the reason was to help us see the game out. The other was because I wanted him to get a bit of recognition for a player who has stepped up from the second division of this league into the top flight and who was thrown straight into the team against the league leaders (Consett).”

ANDERSON: “THE FANS DESERVE A LOT OF CREDIT”

Photo: Ian Brodie

By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC midfielder Danny Anderson paid a glowing tribute to the supporters at Woodhorn Lane labelling them as being ‘quality’ – following the Colliers thrilling 3-3 draw against Consett at The dwmedia Stadium on Saturday.

With only four minutes of normal time remaining and his side trailing 3-2, Anderson popped up to not only score his first goal of the season but his first for two years to help his side salvage a richly deserved point against the league leaders.

And afterwards, a beaming Anderson said: “Fair play to the supporters who were quality as they cheered us on all the way. Full credit to them because they were behind us even when we were losing and making mistakes – and that pushed us on to get the equaliser.”

Ashington-born Anderson reflected on his goal – and says he has a hunger for more: “I was only about four yards out when the ball came to me but I got in front of the defender and it was an unbelievable feeling when it (the ball) hit the net. The stats will correctly point out that it was my first of the season – but it was also my first since I scored at North Shields two years ago when we went on to win the game! However, I’m hoping it’ll be the start of something special because I want to get on the score sheet more regularly. As a box to box midfielder I would like to pick up some goals like some of other the lads do but sometimes I’ve been playing in a four, which alters my role in the side.”

North Seaton-based Anderson – who turned 20 in September – added that the Colliers need to add consistency to their game: “We always seem to bounce back after a loss but now we need to kick on,” he said, “We have drawn today but it feels like a win when you grab a goal so late on. I was really happy and it was great to get a point against the league leaders but we need to keep our levels up and find that consistency no matter who we are playing. It was a good game to play in today and even when I scored it felt unreal with the amount of noise from the supporters and it’s great that people continue to come through the turnstiles and support us.”

Ashington FC boss Ian Skinner said: “Danny has been in good form over the last few weeks – and I think the recent spell when we had Damen Mullen here with us on a month’s loan really helped him. Damo was good for the team and I always say to the younger lads in the squad when the more experienced players are around to learn from them because they are good players as well as being good people who look after themselves and do things right. When Damo went back to Hebburn I said to Danny; ‘you’ve got to step up now and I want you to play in that deep lying role and I want you to get on the ball and pass it for us.’ He’s tried to do that for us in the last couple of games and today he has kept going; got on the ball and has done what I asked him to do.” He continued: “If he makes a 60 yards ball and it doesn’t come off he’s confident to still try and get on the ball and do it again. I was pleased for him that he got his goal because he never stopped working. We were behind in the game and were pushing bodies forward and the ball has gone wide and he’s done what centre midfielders should do – make a run into the box – and thankfully the ball dropped to him and he’s finished it and helped us earn a point. It’s a challenge we had with all the midfielders at the start of the season where we needed them to chip in with goals to take the burden off the strikers and today (v Consett), all of our goals have come from midfield players – Craig Spooner, Luke Salmon and Danny (Anderson) so I’m delighted with that.”

SKINNER: “IT WAS A GAME WHICH WE COULD HAVE WON”

By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner took time out at the end of a see-saw thrilling encounter at The dwmedia Stadium on Saturday before giving his postmatch thoughts on the 3-3 draw with Consett.

The boss then emerged from the dressing room and said: “It was a game this afternoon between what I consider to be two good sides – both who like to try and play football – so I thought it would be pleasant on the eye and it didn’t disappoint. Even being involved in it and the emotions we’ve gone through of being in the lead right the way through to us equalising near the end, I still think I’ve been able to process and appreciate what I’ve just watched. First half I thought we played well and if you break the game down across the 90 minutes, Consett ‘keeper Kyle Hayes has made more saves than our ‘keeper Adam McHugh. First half Hayes has made a great stop from Max Cowburn and another couple in the second half – again one from a Cowburn free kick and AJ (Adam Johnson) when he was through one on one then the ‘keeper got up and scooped the rebound away to safety. It was a really pleasing performance by us and as I say every week, this group of players are willing to work hard for each other, listen and try to play in the way we ask and encourage them to play which we think best suits their strengths. We had a disappointing result at Thornaby and yet again we’ve bounced back with a very good performance.”

He continued: “I thought our first goal was brilliantly worked and it was a fantastic header by Craig Spooner at the back post and I thought we deserved to be ahead. We then just wanted to get to half time 1-0 up – so I was a little bit disappointed we conceded an equaliser from a corner with the ball bouncing in our box. I think there was at least one opportunity to clear it and we haven’t to be fair and James Metcalfe has hit the ball through legs and bodies and it’s gone in. At half time we talked about coming down the bank second half and how the game gets drawn into that side and we started relatively brightly. However I was slightly frustrated that we’ve conceded again in similar fashion as at Thornaby whereby we’ve had the ball in the opponents box and they have broke and scored. It was a great ball in to be fair from Jake Orrell but I wasn’t sure that we deserved to be behind. However credit to this group of players because they never know when they are beaten – certainly not at home – and we got back into the game with a fantastic finish from Luke Salmon with a scissor kick-type-esq finish and then for a little period after that we looked like we might pinch one (a goal) and go into the lead but being super critical we just tried to force things a little bit too much. We had a 10 to 15 minutes spell where we wanted to play a 40 or 50 yard pass in behind to almost try and play the perfect ball and at times it looked dangerous but on other occasions, the gaps between the units gets too big and I thought we could have been a bit more patient and built the play a little bit just to get our energy levels back because we did have a spell where our levels dropped slightly.”

He went on: “I was disappointed with Consett’s third goal because it looked a poor one to concede. We had an opportunity to clear it but gave it away. However yet again our character came to the fore. It was deep into the game with nine minutes left when they (Consett) went 3-2 ahead. We made a couple of substitutions and changed our shape to try and get more bodies forward and to have a go. Yannick Aziakonou played the ball wide – we work it – and by hook or by crook Danny (Anderson) at the back post hadn’t given up and we equalise. I then had to make multiple changes again because we had changed our formation to try and get back into the match and if I’m honest the way the game was going I thought ‘yes we want to win it but let’s make sure we don’t lose it having got back on level terms. We reshuffled the pack and changed back a little bit and the game petered out a little bit towards the end.”

He added: “All in all I thought we at least deserved a draw and if I had rose tinted glasses on I’d say we possibly could have won it in terms of game defining saves. Kyle Hayes for Consett has made three or four more than our ‘keeper Adam McHugh. Adam made one in the first half where everyone thought the ball was going wide but it’s hit the post and come back and he got down to it fantastically well – but other than that I can’t remember too many where he has had to go full length.” Skinner thought the crowd were magnificent – and got value for money: “The supporters added to the occasion,” he said, “The game itself was a fantastic spectacle and the crowd of 735 – plus the atmosphere – was good and it had a proper football-match-feel to it. Credit to Consett who brought a good following with them but it was an excellent game and I’m pretty sure the crowd had value for money.”

MASSIVE BLOW AS EMMERSON RULED OUT FOR THE SEASON

By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC midfielder Max Emmerson has been ruled out for the rest of the season after tearing his Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL).

The 20 year old sustained what can only be termed as a freak injury eight games into the campaign in the 1-1 away draw against North Shields.

Last week North Shields-born Emmerson – a student at Sunderland University – received the results of a scan which revealed that he needs surgery for a full reconstruction of his knee.

“I have completely torn my ACL,” he said as he took in Ashington’s top of the table clash against Consett at The dwmedia Stadium on Saturday, “I’ve got to go in for surgery later this month then it’s a recovery period of possibly six to seven months. I was more disheartened at first, not knowing the extent of the injury and although I’m gutted I’ve learned to accept the situation after being told what the diagnosis is.”

He continued: “I was enjoying playing for the club (Ashington) and the game when I did the injury against North Shields was one of the biggest of the season for me. It happened ten minutes into the match when I turned. My legs stayed rooted whilst my body went the other way. There was no contact with any other player.”

Ashington FC boss Ian Skinner said the club will support the Newcastle based youngster all the way: “It’s the news we feared to be honest,” said Skinner, “On the night when it happened, I just had this feeling that it was an ACL injury and all along we have worked towards that being the outcome. Our club physiotherapist Jay Robertson has looked at Max multiple times and felt it was an ACL and we just needed the results of the scan to confirm it.”

He continued: “I’m devastated for Max because he’s been fantastic for us since he came to the club and it’s probably the biggest setback he’s ever had in his football career. The good thing is that because we thought it was an ACL, Jay (Robertson) has been doing some pre op work with Max so when they do operate, he will obviously have some strength in and around the area.”


He went on: “As a club we will continue to support Max and it was great to see him at the game today (v Consett) and as soon as he has had the operation, I’m sure we’ll help him 100 per cent with his rehab. It’s a one of those situations where there are no short cuts – and he knows that – so he’ll do the rehab to the best of his ability and follow the guidance which he is given. Obviously we’re disappointed to lose Max for the rest of the season but we’ll look forward to seeing him back in a black and white shirt in the not too distant future.”

HARMISON: “HOPEFULLY OUR FANS CAN HELP US”

By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC captain Ben Harmison is looking enlist the help from the fans at Woodhorn Lane to help spur the Colliers on when they welcome Ebac Northern League first division league leaders Consett to The dwmedia Stadium on Saturday (November 13).

Harmison was appointed as the new skipper last weekend to replace Dean Briggs who has emigrated to Dubai.

Ashington went down to a 5-0 reverse at Thornaby last weekend and Harmison – pointing to the statistic that following every defeat, Ian Skinner’s men have bounced back – has asked the home supporters to play their part: “The game should attract a big crowd,” he said, “our fans have been excellent again this year and hopefully they’ll be able to help us on Saturday.”

He continued: “We have lost a couple of players who are hard to replace and to be honest you are looking towards higher leagues to replace Dean Briggs. Hopefully the management are looking to bring in a centre forward but if not, we will have to play with what we have got and lads will have got to step up to the plate, take responsibility and have a bit of belief. The defeat at Thornaby has hit us hard today but we have got two good training sessions during the week to get a bit of confidence and every time we have lost we have bounced back – so it should be a good game against Consett.”

Meanwhile manager Ian Skinner said about the possibility of new signings: “Anybody who comes in has to be good enough or has to be better than what we have got. We are not just going to sign people to make the numbers up.” For Saturday, Max Emmerson and Tom Bramley are both ruled out but Bobby Taylor should return to the squad. Kick-off is 3pm.

HARMISON: “CAPTAINCY CAME AS A SURPRISE”

By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC’s Ben Harmison said being asked to be the new captain of his home town club came as a surprise.

However, Harmison – who took over the armband from Dean Briggs after the midfielder emigrated to Dubai last week – is delighted to take on the role and added he will be looking to lead by example.

“The appointment came as a surprise because I thought it might have gone to one of the younger lads,” said the 35 year old who can operate in defence or be used as a striker, “It was nice to get it – and I’ll be trying to lead by example.”

Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner said: “Ben was one of a few players we considered for the captaincy. We thought given his experience and leadership qualities that this made him an ideal choice. In addition, he is an Ashington lad which is also beneficial.”

Harmison’s first afternoon in the post was one to forget as the Colliers went down 5-0 at Thornaby: “I thought we played some good football – but we suffered because of too many unforced errors,” he revealed afterwards, “we gave the ball away cheaply in certain areas and they (Thornaby) broke on us which probably sums up most our season. When we have lost against the better teams we have given the ball away – and against good teams they punish you.”

Ashington were 3-0 down at the interval and Harmison continued: “Second half I thought there was a bit of a reaction from us and we probably should have scored a couple. It was vital for us to get the first goal after half time and we tried and tried and had a couple of good chances but the two goals which they (Thornaby) scored at the end were because we were pushing.” Harmison admitted that the players have got to put the result behind them and move on: “Things have been brilliant and gone well for us,” he added, “We’ve played some good football along the way but we’ve got to pick ourselves up a little bit. We’ve had a bit bad luck over the past couple of weeks with losing good players but we can’t use that as an excuse and we’ve still got a great squad. We’ve just got to put today’s result down as being a bad day at the office and dust ourselves off because we have got Consett at home on Saturday which will be another tricky game.”