Author: Gav Perry

SKINNER: “IT WAS CUP FOOTBALL AND ALL THAT MATTERS IS THE RESULT”

By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner said the result was all that mattered after watching side advance into the second round of the Northumberland Senior Cup following a 3-1 win over West Allotment Celtic on Tuesday night.

The boss commented: “It was cup football – and all that matters is the result. Were we at our fluent best? No. We made more changes from Saturday and obviously we shouldn’t have been looking beyond this game but we had one eye on our FA Cup game against Stocksbridge Park Steels on Saturday – hence why we chose not to involve a number of players this evening.”

He continued: “I thought first half we were really passive. We played with eight and nine players in our own half; we gave away too many unforced errors and were sloppy in possession. It doesn’t happen very often but I got after the players a little bit at half time – and that’s not me because its something which I don’t particularly enjoy doing.”

Skinner’s team talk had an immediate effect: “There was a reaction second half and we scored really early with a great strike by Paul Robinson then the game petered out a little bit into a non event and we managed it relatively well. I was disappointed with the goal we conceded but then I’m disappointed with every goal we concede! However, the players showed character to come back and restore the lead relatively quickly and then we had a couple of gilt edged chances to really kill the game off but we didn’t manage to take those. With four minutes of added on time, you start thinking ‘we should see this out okay’ and to be fair we did that and the icing on the cake was our third goal which sealed the victory.”

He concluded: “All in all, we’ve won the game; we’re in the hat; we’ll see who we get in the next round and we’ll take anybody at home. However, our focus now turns towards Saturday – and our away trip to face Stocksbridge in the Emirates FA Cup.”

SALMON: “IT WAS MY FIRST GOAL OF THE SEASON – AND IT CAME AT A GOOD TIME”

By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC’s Luke Salmon scored his first goal of the season in his sides 2-0 victory over Penrith on Saturday – and the 31 year old was delighted to get off the mark: “We got the three points which we came for as well as a clean sheet and to score my first goal of the campaign was the icing on the cake,” he said afterwards.

North Shields-born Salmon who came back into the side added: “I was happy with my overall performance and defensively I thought I did okay. Things got a bit scrappy towards the end of the game and we weren’t playing with the amount of possession that we probably would have wanted but in the end we got the result.”

Salmon found the net shortly before half time: “I banked on Paul Robinson to get the flick on which he did and after going past a defender, I put my eyes across the box as if I was going to square the ball then slotted it in,” he added, “It’s always nice to get on the score sheet – but this was my first goal of the season and it came at a good time for us.”

SKINNER: “WE WERENT AT OUR FLUENT BEST – BUT IT WAS A CASE OF JOB DONE”

By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner admitted that his team did not fire on all cylinders in their 2-0 victory over Penrith in Cumbria on Saturday – but said afterwards that it was very much a case of ’job done.’

On their return to league action, goals from Luke Salmon and Adam Johnson put the Colliers back amongst the leading pack in the first division of the Ebac Northern League and Skinner was clearly delighted that although his team were not ‘as slick’ as he would have liked, they nevertheless came away with all three points from a ground which traditionally has always been a difficult place to get a result.

“We weren’t at our fluent best but you’ve got to remember that I made seven changes from last Saturday,” he said afterwards, “The thought process behind that was that a lot of the players I left out today have played in two big cup ties which took a lot out of them both physically and mentally. We also had a number of lads who needed to get out on the pitch and play some games and showcase what they can do and I thought today was a good opportunity for them to try and do that. So that’s probably played a part – not in what I would call a bit of a disjointed performance as that would be a little unjust but where we certainly weren’t as slick as we have been earlier in the season. That said I know anytime to score a goal is a good time but to get one 90 seconds before half time was perfect because had we gone in level, we probably would have been more frustrated than going in 1-0 ahead.”

He continued: “The second goal came through Adam Johnson’s persistence – and I was pleased for him to be on the score sheet again – but second half we never really got going. There was a period of about 15 minutes where Penrith knew they had to push forward a little bit and they’ve started to work the ball into our area but I thought we defended well. Then for the last ten minutes we got our foot on the ball and moved it around a bit and we saw the game out relatively comfortable. I also had the luxury of bringing on one or two players at the end who probably could have added to the scoreline but I’d have taken a 2-0 score line beforehand.”

He added: “I thought Ryan McKinnon came into the side today and looked very solid – but we knew before he even kicked a ball for us that we’d signed a proper player and he didn’t look out of place. All in all I’m delighted – maybes not so much in how we’ve played but delighted in the fact that we’ve won 2-0 and got three points; delighted we’ve kept a clean sheet; delighted that I’ve managed to get players game time and delighted because over the last four games, we’ve only conceded one goal so that’s another positive.”

He concluded: “In terms of the day itself, if you take the performance out of it – and that’s me being a person who demands high standards at all times – then you take into consideration the number of changes, it’s a case of job done. Now we’ll dust ourselves down and go again on Tuesday in the Northumberland Senior Cup at West Allotment.”

McKINNON: “IT WAS A NO BRAINER TO SIGN FOR ASHINGTON”

By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC central defender Ryan McKinnon has said that it was a ‘no brainer’ to sign for the Colliers.

However McKinnon, who joined the Woodhorn Lane outfit from Tow Law Town, has still to make his debut – more than a fortnight after putting pen to paper!

The 26 year old played for the Lawyers against Ian Skinner’s side in their FA Cup preliminary round tie which Ashington won late in the contest thanks to a Robbie Dale penalty and has obviously missed out on the continuing run in the competition by the Wansbeck side as he is cup tied.

McKinnon said this week: “I know a lot of the lads at Ashington like Dean Briggs, Liam Smith and Craig Spooner and played against them earlier in the season. I know how good an outfit they are – so when I spoke to Ian Skinner it was a no brainer to sign for them. It’s a great set up including training which is all I’ve been involved in with the group so far because of the cup run – and I’m happy to be here.”

However McKinnon admitted that he is frustrated and is a bad watcher when his new team are in action: “I love watching football in general but when you are on the sidelines for the team you play for, you are kicking every ball because you want to be involved in the game,” he said, “I get too invested and when it’s a big occasion like this FA Cup run, it’s something which you want to be part of. They are big games which attract loads of spectators – and that’s what you want. From my point of view it’s frustrating – but on the other hand it’s positive times for the club and it’s great to see the lads doing well.”

Manager Ian Skinner said: “Ryan signed for us about two and a half weeks ago and he hasn’t kicked a ball yet! We had the replay against Ashton United – and he’s ineligible – then the West Auckland game was postponed due to the sad passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and then we played Bradford Park Avenue in the next round of the FA Cup. Ryan has trained four times since he joined the club and he looks everything we thought he was. He’s big and strong and is good on the floor in terms of the way we try to play out but he’s also strong in the tackle and good in the air – but I knew that and that’s why I brought him to the football club. Any player who comes to us has got to be the real deal – and Ryan is. I had a bit of a chat with him after training just to make sure he was settling in alright and he’s enjoying it – although he’s desperate to get out there on the park.”

Casting an eye towards Saturday’s Ebac Northern League clash against Penrith in Cumbria, Skinner added: “I’ll be having a long hard look in terms of everyone’s playing time which I keep a log of because we’ve got some players who have played a lot of football. These boys have played in two physically and mentally tiring cup ties against Ashton United and Bradford Park Avenue and there are lads who are chomping at the bit to get some minutes – so it might just be time to freshen things up.”

SKINNER: “IT WILL BE A REAL TOUGH TIE AWAY FROM HOME”

By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner’s immediate reaction on hearing the draw for the next round of the Emirates FA Cup was one of disappointment – and that his side will face a ‘real tough tie away from home’ when they travel to face Stocksbridge Park Steels on Saturday week (October 1).

The Colliers booked their place in the third qualifying round on Saturday after a 2-1 win over Bradford Park Avenue at Woodhorn Lane whilst at the same time Sheffield based Stocksbridge – who play in the Pitching In Northern Premier League East Division – scored a late winner against Marine to secure their spot.

Skinner said: “First of all, I was disappointed that we didn’t get a home tie because that’s what we really wanted. I think the draw could have been more unkind in terms of the opposition but obviously we will still give Stocksbridge the respect they deserve. They play in a step above us so we’ll be gathering as much information on them as we can.”

He continued: “We’ll prepare properly – just like we do for every game – and we’ll have a little look at where our strengths lie and potentially some of the areas we think we can exploit in their team. It will be a real tough tie away from home but it’s one which we’ll look forward too. No doubt we’ll take a good following of supporters and we’ll be giving it our best shot.”

Meanwhile Skinner’s thoughts this week turn to Saturday’s away trip to face Penrith in an Ebac Northern League first division clash and he said: “It’ll be nice because it feels like ages since we last played a league game. Our last outing was away to Carlisle City three weeks ago so it’ll be good to close the gap on those number of games because some teams are into double figures now with matches played whilst we have only completed six so we’ve got a lot to catch up on. However, if I’m honest if someone had said to me before the start of the season that we may need to catch up on a few league games but have a good run in the FA Cup, I think I would have taken it.”

SKIPPER HARMISON “DAY TO REMEMBER”

By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC skipper Ben Harmison described the Colliers’ win over Bradford Park Avenue in the Emirates FA Cup at Woodhorn Lane as being a ‘day to remember.’

Harmison went into the contest with an extra spring in his step after helping Ashington Cricket Club to win promotion to the Premier Division of the North East Premier League.

And the 36 year old not only led from the front at Woodhorn Lane with a colossal display but also netted what proved to be a crucial second goal for the black and whites with quarter of an hour of the clash remaining.

Harmison said afterwards: “The result was brilliant – and we deserved to win. We knew about Bradford and that they were struggling in their league – whilst we were confident. Our manager Ian Skinner had been to watch them and reported back to us that there was no reason why we couldn’t win – and that’s the message which we took into the game. We had nothing to fear and had that belief that we could beat them and it didn’t matter to us that they were three levels above us because we’ve got players in our side that can easily play at that standard.”

He continued: “The early goal helped us and then for a period of ten minutes, we made them look ordinary. However, for some reason we took our foot off the gas and let them come into it with the wind. They had some quality on the left, putting balls into the box but we defended well as a team.”

Harmison was pleased to get his name on the score sheet with a looping header: “I looked to get a good contact on the ball and let the wind take it in,” he said, “Naturally I was delighted when the ball hit the back of the net because it put us 2-0 up and gave us a bit of a cushion. I thought we were getting tired and it showed in the last ten minutes which was understandable for a club at our level.”

He went on: “We are in the hat for the next round and with the exposure the club will get, it was a fantastic day. To get this far in the competition is not just brilliant for lads but for the fans and the club in general.”

SKINNER PRAISES ‘FANTASTIC’ SUPPORT

By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner has praised the ‘fantastic’ support his side received before, during and after their 2-1 victory over Bradford Park Avenue in their FA Cup clash on Saturday.

He said: “The supporters have excelled themselves again. With all the local football which was on in the area, they came out in their numbers and were fantastic. I’d like to thank them and also to those who came along for the first time from the town and cheered us on – let’s hope we get them all back again.”

SKINNER: “I JUST COULDN’T TAKE A RISK”

By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner revealed he had to make a ‘big’ decision ahead of his sides second qualifying round clash in the Emirates FA Cup against Bradford Park Avenue at Woodhorn Lane on Saturday which the Colliers won 2-1.

Skinner brought skipper Ben Harmison back into the team with Thomas Kalthoeber named amongst the substitutes – but the boss explained: “To be fair, I had a big decision to make – and Thomas Kalthoeber was unlucky today. Thomas dropped out at training on Thursday night with a little bit of an injury on his ankle. He reported this morning (Saturday) and said he felt fine – but I just felt that I couldn’t take the risk of playing him in a game of this size and potentially having to make a substitution early in the game.”

He continued: “With Ben Harmison available, I plumped for putting him into the side and to be honest I thought he was our man of the match today with his defending if I’m honest whilst he’s also popped up with a goal at the other end. It’ll be a little bit easier for Thomas to take knowing that we didn’t want to take the risk with him and that Ben (Harmison) has come in and done really, really well for us.”

SKINNER: “MY INITIAL REACTION IS ONE OF DELIGHT ALL ROUND”

By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner certainly did his homework on opponents Bradford Park Avenue in preparation for Saturday’s second qualifying round tie in the Emirates FA Cup which the Colliers won 2-1 at Woodhorn Lane.

And after the final whistle, Skinner’s immediate thoughts were one of delight – for so may people connected with the club.

Skinner speaking within minutes of the win against the National League North side said: “I’m obviously delighted – for the players, for the club, for the fans and for all the hard work which goes into preparing for these types of games. Personally I’m not looking for any plaudits but the chairman (Brian Shotton) and myself drove down to Bradford on Monday evening to watch them in action against Darlington. I also managed to get a copy of every game in which they had played this season. I must have sat watching hours and hours of footage of them (Bradford) to work out how we could look at playing against them. Then you read comments about how it will be a great day for their strikers to boost their confidence because they haven’t scored many goals and I just thought ‘I’ll stick that piece of news on our dressing room wall!’

He continued: “One thing was uppermost in my mind – a way of how we wanted to try and play because we set up purely and simply to win the game – nothing else. I said to the lads ‘I think we can win it and I expect us to win to be honest.’ They (the players) were fantastic in training on Thursday. They showed some real quality in the final third around how we were going to play – so full credit to them because they have taken the information which they were provided with on board.”

On the first half, Skinner said: “For the early exchanges I thought we were the better side and deserved to go ahead. We had them rattled a little bit in the first 20 minutes then we just seemed to drop off a touch and invited them to have the ball. We knew their danger was big diagonal balls into their striker Jacob Blyth and then looking to get Brad Dockerty and others around him and playing off seconds – and they grew into the game and had a couple of chances. They had a goal ruled off in the first half but our ‘keeper Karl Dryden hasn’t really had a save to make and we’ve come in at half time ahead.”

He added: “We talked about one or two things at the interval in terms of being a little bit braver and staying on the ball a bit more in the way we usually play and combining and putting passes together. We knew there was a bit of a wind so when they (Bradford) tried to play a little bit more direct it (the ball) would hang up in the air. Again we fashioned some chances; Lee Mason was clean through and it was a good save from their ‘keeper (George Sykes-Kenworthy) then Mason has had a fantastic and technically brilliant strike which has hit the bar.”

With quarter of an hour remaining, skipper Ben Harmison added Ashington’s second with a header – and Skinner said: “I was right behind the effort and it was one of them where it was looping and you think ‘it’s in, it’s in’ – only it took an age for the ball to drop into the net! At 2-0, you think ‘let’s see if we can manage the game out’ but to Bradford’s credit – and it was a cup tie where they had to go for it – they started to cause us problems. The left back had real quality and started to get little three versus twos down our right hand side and they got balls into the box and from one which was half cleared, they’ve pulled one back. It wouldn’t be Ashington if we didn’t make things a little bit exciting! They had another goal disallowed for offside but then after that we managed to see the game out relatively comfortably and we’re in the hat for the next round.”

SKINNER: “TEAMS WILL NOT WANT TO COME TO FACE US”

By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner said within minutes of his side knocking Bradford Park Avenue out of this season Emirates FA Cup after a merited 2-1 victory, that when the draw for the third qualifying round is made on Tuesday, that no team will fancy a trip to face his side at Woodhorn Lane.

An upbeat Skinner said: “Our club have got a group of players who play in the Ebac Northern League but without being disrespectful lots of them already have – and others could – play at a higher standard – and they’ve shown that.”

He continued: “People can say we beat Ashton United who are two divisions above us and that in the FA Cup things like that happen and it goes down as being a bit of a shock – well Bradford Park Avenue, who play three leagues above us, came to our ground on Saturday and we beat them as well.”

He went on: “I have already said that I’m hoping for another home tie in the next round because nobody will want to come here – we’ll be the team that others will be saying ‘I don’t fancy going up there!’