Author: Gav Perry

Club Announcement

Following a transfer request from Danny Anderson last week the club can confirm we have cancelled Danny‘s contract (pending FA confirmation).

We can also confirm that coaching staff Lee Anderson and Neil Cooper resigned from their roles following Saturday‘s game against Bishop Auckland.

The club would like to thank all three for their time and efforts and wish all well in the future.

SAMPSON: “I DON’T SCORE MANY – BUT THE GOAL TODAY IS UP THERE AS BEING ONE OF MY BEST EVER”

By Brian Bennett | Photo: Brian Bennett

Midfielder Ben Sampson put the icing on Ashington’s cake on Saturday when he scored a wonder goal in the 5-0 hammering over Bishop Auckland at Woodhorn Lane.

Sampson’s strike – an outstanding chip over ‘keeper Nicky Liversedge from fully 35 yards – was the Colliers fifth on the day and the 23 year old admitted afterwards that it was one of his best ever: “I don’t score many but the goal today is up there as being one of my best ever,” he said, “I won the ball, spotted the ‘keeper off his line and definitely meant to chip him (the keeper). It was a thoroughly enjoyable moment and the fans were just brilliant.”

Sampson – who complimented the County Durham outfit, labelling them as being a ‘very good team’ – reckons Ashington’s convincing result was a ‘statement win.’

“It was a massive win – and a statement win,” he said, “Bishop Auckland are a very good team and they have quality players who moved the ball around well in the first half. We managed to get the first goal which was an outstanding effort from Lee Mason and that gave us a good grounding. For the last three games Ryan McKinnon has come in and been outstanding at the back. We have looked so solid and have never looked like conceding. Our quality shone through in the second half today and the floodgates opened for our goals – but we also stuck in at the back, didn’t concede and to come out with a clean sheet was an added bonus.”

The Colliers are without a midweek fixture this week and Ashington-born Sampson believes the squad will welcome the break: “We had a long run in the Emirates FA Cup and after we went out of the competition to King’s Lynn, we returned to league action,” he said, “We played Newcastle Benfield and Heaton Stannington where I thought we were the better team in both games but dropped five points out of six and it was felt we needed to relax. In general, lads have played a lot of big hard games so although we are training twice this week, the break will help and do the squad good. We have strung three wins together against Thornaby, Whickham and Bishop Auckland and I think we are back on track and bang on form.”

Meanwhile Morpeth-based Sampson says the standard of football which the current squad are serving up has reached ‘a different level.’

“I’ve been at Ashington for five or six years now and the quality of our football on the pitch now has gone to a different level,” he added, “I’m loving it here.”

MAGUIRE: “I’M THOROUGHLY ENJOYING MY TIME HERE”

By Brian Bennett | Photo: Ian Brodie

Ashington FC striker Dan Maguire got back on the goals trail on Saturday as a strong and convincing second half display by the Colliers saw them rip the Bishop Auckland defence to shreds in a dominant 5-0 victory.

And afterwards Maguire, delighted to get his name on the score sheet with an effort sandwiched in-between a brace from skipper Ben Harmison, said he was ‘thoroughly enjoying’ his time at Woodhorn Lane.

Harmison also claimed the assist for Maguire’s goal, flicking the ball wide to the ex Blyth Spartans man who cut inside before steering his shot inside the post: “It was great to see the ball hit the back of the net and naturally I was pleased to get on the mark once again,” he said.”

The forward, one of manager Ian Skinner’s summer signings, has been a revelation up front – something which has not gone unnoticed by supporters at Woodhorn Lane.

“I’m thoroughly enjoying my time here,” he added, “It was smashing being part of the club’s recent run in the Emirates FA Cup but after returning to league action and having had a couple of disappointing results against Newcastle Benfield and Heaton Stannington, it was important that we bounced back – and we’ve done that with three wins in a row.”

MASON: “I’M STILL CARRYING AN INJURY”

By Brian Bennett | Photo: Ian Brodie

Lee Mason scored Ashington’s opening goal on Saturday as the Colliers crushed Ebac Northern League leaders Bishop Auckland 5-0 at Woodhorn Lane.

It was Mason’s tenth strike of the season and his second in three games – but the 31 year old admitted that he is still playing through the pain barrier with an injury which has plagued him for four months since the start of the pre season fixtures: “I’ve had achilles tendonitis since our first warm up match against Alnwick Town at the start of July,” he said, “It went for a week but last Tuesday as soon as I started running it was back. It’s so painful – and that’s why the manager is bringing me off in games but the injury aside, when we went 2-0 up against Bishop Auckland, the best thing to do was to get fresh legs on so again, I was happy to come off.”

On fireworks day, a rocket from Mason just past the half hour mark, gave his side the lead: “It was a great ball by Ben Sampson into Ben Harmison who is always going to win his headers,” he said, “Sure enough, Ben (Harmison) has headed it down and luckily for me, it’s bounced and sat up nicely. I knew I was hitting it first time regardless and I’ve just struck through it and the way I’ve hit it, its went away from the ‘keeper which obviously makes it better. As soon as it left my foot I knew it was going in because I could see the ball curling away into the net.”

Newcastle-born Mason was also involved in Ashington’s second after he was clipped inside the area and Harmison converted the resultant spot kick: “When the ball dropped, I was actually going to hit it first time but I nipped in front of the defender, took a touch and he took my feet away. It was nailed on penalty and Ben (Harmison) has stepped up to tuck it into the back of the net.”

Mason was substituted on the hour – so was able to admire the fifth goal by Ben Sampson: “At first, I thought it was a through ball for Ben Harmison to be fair – but don’t take anything away from Ben Sampson’s finish,” he added, “He’s been tremendous – not just today – but over the last month or so. To burst through from the half way line, see the ‘keeper is off his line and to chip him, Ben (Sampson) has scored a brilliant goal and it topped off our performance in the second half really.”

Meanwhile Blyth-based Mason – who works for the Council – is happy the Colliers have a free midweek: “The pitches have been a bit heavy recently at Thornaby and today at Woodhorn Lane so I think a free week and rest will do us good,” he said, “Regardless of the run we had in the Emirates FA Cup, today’s clash was massive because it was probably one of the biggest games of the season so far. Take nothing away from Bishop Auckland who I thought were good in the first period but for us to put on a show like we did, especially in the second half put a statement out. It showed that we can mix it up in the big games in the FA Cup and also when we come back to league duty that we are ready to go again and get the results we need.”

SKINNER: “WE’LL ENJOY TODAY’S RESULT – BUT WE CERTAINLY WON’T BE GETTING CARRIED AWAY”

By Brian Bennett | Photo: Ian Brodie

Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner was naturally euphoric after his sides convincing 5-0 win over Ebac Northern League first division leaders Bishop Auckland at Woodhorn Lane on Saturday.

Lee Mason fired the Colliers ahead in the first half then the goals flowed after the break with Ben Harmison hitting a brace (including one from the penalty spot), Dan Maguire and a Ben Sampson special.

The boss said that the club will enjoy the moment – until the players return to training this week: “We do this as a hobby and when you win any football match 5-0 – let alone against a team who are a great side and who will be there or thereabouts at the top end of the table come the end of the season – it would be daft for us not to go and enjoy it,” he said, “When we win a match, it puts a smile on faces in the camp and rightly so – but the message is to enjoy the result now because we’ll be back on the training pitch and back to working hard on Tuesday night. The victory over Bishop Auckland will be put to bed and we’ll be turning all of our attentions towards our away match against Northallerton on Saturday.”

Looking back on the first half, the boss said: “If I’m honest, at 3pm all we wanted to do was to win a home game – and we’ve done that. I thought they (Bishop Auckland) probably started better than us and there’s a big moment after about seven minutes when our ‘keeper Karl Dryden makes a brilliant save. Whether that woke us up a little bit I don’t know but I just thought for the first 10-15 minutes they (Bishop Auckland) were probably slightly the better side and we grew into the game. Obviously to take the lead helps – and it was a good goal. Ben Harmison has headed down a cross and Lee Mason’s thunderbolt was a great strike. Lee (Mason) strikes a ball lovely – we’ve seen him do it at Thornaby recently and other places also spring to mind. After that, the first half was quite tentative and quite close – which we thought the whole game would be.”

He continued: “Second half I thought we just looked as if we were at it a little bit more and it was nice for a change that we have punished mistakes which the opposition have made. When we got the second goal, we really looked to control the game and didn’t give them (Bishop Auckland) a moment to settle. We took our chances when they came and I thought we looked a bit stronger than them and wanted it that little bit more. For our second goal I definitely thought it was a penalty and obviously Ben Harmison – having missed one recently – has stepped up to take it and scored then we’ve gone on to add some really good goals including a terrific effort from Ben Sampson.”

He went on: “All in all to win 5-0 against Bishop Auckland – who are having a fantastic season and who have got a fantastic squad – is very satisfying. Obviously the clean sheets are pleasing and again our goalkeeper Karl Dryden has made a good save at 5-0 from a free kick to preserve that clean sheet. We have only played 13 league games and it’s a great result today – but we won’t be getting carried away. It’s a home win in front of another magnificent crowd; we have scored five goals to boot; added three points onto our tally and plus five on the goal difference. Following our exit in the Emirates FA Cup against King’s Lynn, we drew one and lost one of our next two league games and a lot was said about it with people calling it a cup hangover. Probably too big of a point was made of it but it’s great that the players have taken it on board and gone to Thornaby and won then backed that up with two wins from two home games. As I have already said, if you win your home matches and pick up points on the road, then you are on track to have a pretty good season – and with only one game at Woodhorn Lane out of the next eight, a steady stream of away games is rapidly approaching.”

For Saturday’s trip to North Yorkshire (November 12), Skinner said: “We will need to check on one or two bumps and bruises but we’d like to think Paul Robinson will be available for selection although the game will probably come too early for Robbie Dale and Dean Briggs.”

“LET’S RAISE THE ROOF” – SKINNER ASKS FANS TO BE VOCAL

By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner – appreciative of the support his team receives from the Woodhorn Lane fans – has asked them to again come out in force and ‘raise the roof’ for his sides top of the table clash against Bishop Auckland at Woodhorn Lane on Saturday.

The Colliers attracted another whopping attendance of over 500 for Tuesday’s Ebac Northern League first division clash with Whickham – which certainly didn’t go unnoticed by the Colliers boss: “The backing was brilliant and they sang throughout which was great,” he said, “Now we want them back on Saturday to be equally as vocal and equally as supportive of the team and to raise the roof.”

The 4-1 win over the Lang Jacks propelled Skinner’s outfit – who are languishing behind with their league fixtures due to their exciting and prolonged run in the Emirates FA Cup – up to fourth in the table.

Skinner reckons Saturday’s mouth watering contest will develop into a ‘very good game’ – but says the club will be treating it just like any other: “Yes, it’s a clash between two teams at the top – but from our point of view, it’s just another match in our programme,” he said, “We obviously want to get three points from every home game because if you can do that, and then win or pick points up on the road, the law of averages and statistics tell you that you’ll be there or thereabouts at the right end of the division come the end of the season. Certainly it’ll be a tough encounter because Bishops have got a fantastic squad which they have added too recently. I’m sure it’ll be a very good game between two very, very good squads and two very good footballing sides and we are all looking forward to it.”

Skinner added “Paul Robinson, who has been on the treatment table recently, has got a chance to come into the squad and I also need to hear reports from one of two others but Dean Briggs and Robbie Dale are both ruled out.”

Kick-off is 3pm.

POSTMATCH INTERVIEW | IAN SKINNER

By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner emerged after the 4-1 victory over Whickham at Woodhorn Lane on Tuesday night and said that although his side were not at their fluent best, he was nevertheless delighted with back to back victories following Saturday’s 2-0 result over Thornaby.

The Colliers led 2-0 at half time with goals from Ben Harmison and Andrew Cartwright and when Lang Jacks defender Garon Garside put through his own net in the first minute after the interval it was just the start the home side wanted.

Whickham skipper Dale Burrell reduced the arrears in the closing stages before substitute Craig Spooner scored a stoppage time fourth for Skinner’s side.

“It was good to get another win and put another three points on the board,” said Skinner afterwards, “We knew it would be a tough game because Whickham work hard for each other and have got good team spirit and we knew they would come here and make it difficult for us but I thought we started the game really brightly. Within the first minute or so, we forced them into an error and that helps if I’m honest because it sets the tone and Ashington people think ‘yes we are on this tonight.’

He continued: “We just struggled to find our rhythm but when we did, we scored a fantastic goal following a great move which we had worked on with Ben Harmison being in the side and playing upfront. We talked about getting them to work on opposites and delivering the ball into that space in behind the back lines because now if teams want to come and sit deep, he gives us a different option and if they (the opposition) want to drop even deeper to prevent that ball then we’ll play in front of them. Then Ashington did what Ashington do – and went and gave a penalty away which I thought was really, really harsh if I’m honest. The second bit of football we played, we played out well and broke the lines. We attacked with numbers onto them which brought the foul and from Andrew Cartwright’s delivery obviously the ball took a massive deflection for the goal.”

He went on: “We went in leading 2-0 at half time and without being disrespectful, I thought it was relatively comfortable. There was a period of about ten minutes where we kept the ball and moved it and we talked about keeping clean sheets and defending properly throughout the game and if opportunities presented themselves we’d try to take them but if they don’t and we manage the game properly, we win the game. We got the perfect start to the second half really. We were quick out of the blocks again and forced them into a mistake which unfortunately for them has seen the lad (Garon Garside) put the ball into his own goal. After that, I thought the game petered out a little bit. We had two or three half chances where we’ve turned the ball over in and around their final third but maybes haven’t quite fashioned chances. Ben Harmison has had a superb header at the back post and the ‘keeper has made a great save – again from a good move where Karl Ross has gone down the wing and put the ball in early.”

He added: “We then lost our way a little bit and became very disjointed and very messy with Whickham coming into the game a little bit more. They stuck Jamie Dunn up front and bashed the ball up to him then Dale Burrell scored with a decent free kick for them – but if I’m honest I think we should have done better to defend it.”

He concluded: “We kept going right to the death and the ball has dropped to Craig Spooner and he’s lifted it over the keeper with a great finish. We’ve won 4-1 and if anybody had said that to me before the game, I’d have taken it. We were able to take key players off after an hour and I don’t think you can ask for a lot more. It’s now back to back wins and although we are not quite playing as fluid and as free flowing as we did earlier in the season, what we are doing is still picking up results and that’s what matters in the division.”

DALE: “WE’VE GOT A BIG POINT TO PROVE THIS WEEK”

By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC’s Robbie Dale said the Colliers have got a ‘big point to prove’ when they face back to back home league games against Whickham and Bishop Auckland this week.

The Lang Jacks visit Woodhorn Lane on Tuesday (November 1) for a 7.30pm start whilst the clash against Ebac Northern League leaders Bishop Auckland (3pm) should be a cracker on Saturday (November 5).

Speaking after Saturday’s 2-0 win over Thornaby, Dale said: “We reckon we are a good team and we’ve proved it again today (at Thornaby). We’ve got to be confident because we are at home and I think we’ve got a big point to prove this week because last weeks two home games weren’t good enough – so these two have to be. Whickham and Bishop Auckland will be two good sides to play. Both outfits will come and work and both are quality teams who have got good players. We will be able to welcome at least three players back into the squad for Tuesday’s clash with Ben Harmison, Adam Johnson and Damen Mullen all available which adds to the depleted squad we had today (at Thornaby).”

Cramlington-based Dale hopes the Woodhorn Lane crowd will provide noisy backing: “If the crowd can get behind us that would be fantastic,” he said, “but we’ve got to give them something to shout about – we can’t just rely on them to boost us. We’ve got to begin well – and I thought that was key today (at Thornaby) because we started on the front foot and if we can replicate that, the football I always think will take care of itself. We have got good enough players but it’s also about work rate and effort – and that’s what we got today.”

McKINNON: “I’D LIKE TO THINK MY GOAL WILL BE THE FIRST OF MANY!”

By Brian Bennett

Ryan McKinnon scored his first goal for Ashington at Thornaby on Saturday – and said that he hopes it will be the first of many!

As the Colliers exciting run in the Emirates FA Cup captured the attentions of the Wansbeck public before it came to an end with a 3-1 defeat against National League North side King’s Lynn in the fourth qualifying round, Hexham-born McKinnon had been left kicking his heels on the sidelines over the past couple of months – as the defender had played for Tow Law against the Wansbeck outfit in the preliminary round of the competition.

“It’s been a frustrating couple of weeks for us with a few poor results in the league,” said the 26 year old, “We needed a reaction – and I think we came up with a performance today (at Thornaby) where we’ve got a clean sheet and three points. I thought we played better in the first period as the second half wasn’t pretty and was a scrap – but we showed we could deal with it and hold our own and to be honest I don’t think they (Thornaby) had any real chances.”

McKinnon’s goal on the 22 minutes mark was a bullet-like header and he said: “I’d like to think it will be the first of many! It was a great cross in from Andrew Cartwright but then all the deliveries today to be fair and every week are quality and are just asking for someone to get on the end of them. I was rapid, getting across the front post and I was really pleased when the header went in. Obviously we’ve got a few big lads in our side so we should score more goals from set plays.”

The Consett-based lynchpin added: “To be honest I’ve been chomping at the bit to play from the start so it was nice to be back in the team and get 90 minutes in my legs and I felt strong. I’ve played the game long enough now to know what I need to do to keep myself ticking over so its not a case of if I get thrown in, not being ready for it. I felt good today although for the last ten minutes I felt my legs a bit – but that was because it was a heavy pitch.”

DALE: “IT WAS JOB DONE”

By Brian Bennett

Robbie Dale described Ashington’s 2-0 victory over Thornaby at Teesdale Park on Saturday as ‘job done.’

Ryan McKinnon notched his first goal for the club midway through the first half before a thunderbolt strike from Lee Mason 13 minutes from full time sealed the result.

Newcastle-born Dale – currently sidelined with an injury – was giving his postmatch verdict in his new role as being a member of Ian Skinner’s management team.

He said: “Squad wise we were short handed today so the result was very much a case of job done. We also needed to bounce back because last week wasn’t good enough and we owed ourselves a performance to prove a point. We knew we had to come here and be strong. We also got a clean sheet and it’s been a while in the league since we had one of them – so all in all, it was the perfect away performance really.”

Dale continued: “We asked the lads to put a shift in and I think everybody’s done what was asked of them today. Liam Smith has come in for his first game in a while. We asked him to do a deep role and I thought he played really well whilst Karl Ross was outstanding in midfield and the two centre halves (Ryan McKinnon and Darren Lough) were class. They marshalled everything – nothing got past them – and they had everybody organised. ‘Keeper Karl Dryden hasn’t had a save to make and that’s how good the defence has been today. I thought they (the defence) were screened really well because the midfield four in front of them ran themselves into the ground. But we asked the two centre halves plus Jordan Summerly and Andrew Cartwright to do a little bit more defensively to help out and they did that.”

Dale heaped praise onto the two goal scorers Ryan McKinnon and Lee Mason: “Ryan is a very good player who attacks the ball well at both ends,” he said, “He nearly scored from the previous corner and as soon as he got his head on the next one, I knew it was going in. For the second goal from Lee Mason – that’s who you want the ball to fall too. Ben Sampson drove the ball and committed the man which we had asked him to do and as soon as it goes onto Mason’s right foot, he lashes it and it’s a perfect strike – although I didn’t expect him to put it into the top corner!”