Author: Gav Perry

VAN-ZANDVLIET: “IT’S THE QUICKEST GOAL I’VE EVER SCORED”

By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC’s Paul Van-Zandvliet admitted that his goal after only 24 seconds against Consett recently is the quickest in his footballing career.

Van-Zandvliet pounced to score the rebound after Wilson Kneeshaw’s initial effort had been parried by Consett ‘keeper James Anderson.

For any player who scores in the first minute of a match it is surely a unique experience – only Van-Zandvliet has experienced it all before!

“Without a doubt it is the quickest I’ve ever scored,” said the North Shields born midfielder, “The ball got played over the top and Wilson Kneeshaw is like lightening with his pace. I knew what he was going to do because we had worked on it in training with the management team and I just wanted to be in and around the six yards box. The ball came to me and I just wanted to make sure that I concentrated and hit a clean strike with my left foot and when it hit the back of the net, it was a great feeling. Two years ago, I scored for North Shields against Newcastle Benfield at Sam Smiths Park which was around 43 seconds and that was a fantastic moment as well.”

For the 23 year old – who is an electrical engineer – it was his second goal in consecutive games and his aim is to bag more: “I’m buzzing after scoring two games in a row,” he added, “It’s something which the management team want me to do more – to arrive late in the box and add that bit extra to the team. Even from a personal point of view I want to score more goals to help the lads and everyone who supports the club.”

KNEESHAW: “I’M JUST DISAPPOINTED IN MYSELF THAT IN SOME OF THOSE MOMENTS I WASN’T BETTER”

By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC striker Wilson Kneeshaw expressed having mixed feelings on Saturday – after he had notched his 15th goal of the season in the Colliers 2-2 draw against Belper Town.

The 29 year old put the Wansbeck outfit 2-1 ahead 12 minutes into the second half with a fabulous finish but later missed out on another opportunity as he hit the woodwork.

Sidik Atcha then left the visitors shell shocked after he scored a sensational equaliser for The Nailers in time added on.

Kneeshaw commented: “I said to the lads in the dressing room afterwards that as a striker you play football for the moments – so obviously the first moment went really well when I netted the goal and I was happy because it helped the team. For the second moment I’ve gone through again and I feel I should have done better and scored, even though the ‘keeper got a nudge on the ball and it’s hit the post. Then another moment for me was getting back in from tracking the centre half who has eventually gone on and scored the goal right at the death. I’m just disappointed in myself – not with the team – that in some of those moments I wasn’t better.”

Darlington-born Kneeshaw was adamant that Ashington should have taken all three points from the contest: “I thought we were fantastic to be honest,” he said, “We managed the game perfectly and limited their chances and our ‘keeper Karl Dryden has had nothing to do in the second half. We played really, really well but for me it definitely feels like two points dropped.”

GASCOIGNE: “THE TARGET FOR ME NOW IS TO FINISH THE SEASON STRONGLY”

By Brian Bennett

Cam Gascoigne netted his second goal of the season at Belper Town on Saturday in the 2-2 draw down in Derbyshire.

And afterwards the 22 year old outlined his target for the remainder of the campaign.

Gascoigne scored as the Colliers swept local rivals North Shields aside with a 4-0 victory in the extra preliminary round of the FA Cup on the opening day back in August but has been forced to miss parts of the season due to injury.

After returning to the starting line up on Saturday, the Dunston-born midfielder spoke about his plan: “Today was my first start for quite a while,” he said, “I’ve been in and out of the team with injuries and the target for me now is to finish the season strongly. I thought I put in a decent performance today and I want to stay in the team and keep the shirt. Obviously I was a little bit disappointed when Belper equalised at the end but we grafted away from home against a side that are pushing for the play offs.”

Gascoigne’s rasping right foot strike – his first goal for Ashington in the Pitching In Northern Premier League East Division – levelled the scores at 1-1 at the Raygar Stadium and he said: “The ball came out to me and it was a little bit like slow motion to be honest. I took a touch and there were loads of players on the goal-line so I tried to put the ball as close to the top corner as I could. It paid off and I was delighted. We only had two substitutes and it was tough but we stuck together and dug in and I was proud of all the boys today because I thought they were fantastic.”

SKINNER: “WE NEED TO IMPROVE OUR HOME FORM”

By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC boss Ian Skinner – preparing for Saturday’s tussle against Grimsby Borough at Woodhorn Lane (March 23) – will emphasise to his squad of players the need to improve their form on home soil.

Saturday’s 2-2 draw against Belper Town – where there was a sting in the tail when the Derbyshire-based outfit scored a stoppage time equaliser – was the Colliers’ fourth consecutive away game and the boss said: “We are pleased to have a free week. We looked a touch leggy towards the end of what has been a busy period in terms of having travels to Stockton, Pontefract, Consett and Belper. I don’t want to use the terms being down to the bare bones but obviously we only had two substitutes at Belper today and if we had had a couple more to be able to freshen things up a bit towards the end, who knows what might have happened.”

He continued: “I think the good thing for us is we have got two or three ways of playing now and that’s credit to the lads. We work hard on it in training about being adaptable and being able to switch in terms of how we play and that’s vital for us. Not only does it mean we can play in different ways from game to game but it also means in-game we can change in terms of the system and the shape that we play. That causes opposition sides problems and I thought it was evident at Belper today. I don’t want to sound disrespectful but I don’t think they (Belper) ever got to grips with us and it will be interesting to see the possession stats and the passes completed. I’ll not be surprised if I see that we had more of the ball than them and made far more passes than them – but our performance deserved a little bit more than it got.”

He added: “We’ll dust ourselves down and train this week as we prepare for what will be a tough game against Grimsby Borough. We just need to look at our home form a little bit because we’ve picked up more points on the road. It probably suits us being away because teams have to come at us and when teams do that and leave space, we are a really difficult outfit to play against. At home, teams come and sit in a little bit more and expect us to break them down so that presents a different challenge – but its one we look forward too.”

SKINNER: “TO BE HONEST, I THOUGHT THE BOYS WERE MAGNIFICENT”

By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner lauded his players with the highest possible praise after they had secured a point from a 2-2 draw away to Belper Town on Saturday.

The Woodhorn Lane boss saw his outfit denied what would have been a merited 2-1 victory snatched from their grasp following an unbelievable stoppage time equaliser from the home sides Sidik Atcha: “To be honest I thought the boys were magnificent this afternoon,” he said, “I don’t think we could have asked for much more from them. We lost seven players from the squad during the week for various reasons and we’ve had a bit of illness in the camp which has wiped one or two out whilst we had a couple of lads who have been ill, come back in and play today.”

Ashington went a goal behind on the quarter hour mark which left Skinner frustrated: “It terms of the game itself I didn’t think we started particularly well,” he said, “We looked a little bit lethargic and leggy and although I don’t want to look for excuses, that could have been down to the near four hour journey on the coach to Derbyshire. I was really disappointed with the goal we conceded which was poor from our point of view. We got the first contact; the ball has dropped into the box but we haven’t got the second contact and they have scored. However, I was pleased with the reaction of the lads and I thought we went on to control the first half. We got back into it with a good equaliser from Cam Gascoigne then we’ve had a couple of very good chances to take the lead – hitting the crossbar whilst their ‘keeper (Daniel Moore) has made a couple of good saves.”

He continued: “We got in at half time and talked about continuing to keep doing the things which were causing them problems whilst looking to improve on a couple of aspects like when we are out of possession. Second half we started really brightly and had a couple of big opportunities in the first five to ten minutes. Wilson Kneeshaw was played clean through and went around the goalkeeper but had a bit of a heavy touch which allowed the defender to get back onto the line. A couple of minutes later, we’ve done really well in terms of switching the play and Will Constantin has got into the box on the far side on the right hand side but he’s flashed a shot over the bar. Again I thought we went on to control pretty much of the second half. We’ve gone 2-1 up with a good goal – doing what we do best. They (Belper) have held a high line; we’ve got Wilson (Kneeshaw) in behind with his pace and he’s gone through and finished it off really well. After that we dominated large periods of possession whilst they offered the odd little threat on the counter attack. I remember one shot which flashed across our goal but other than that our ‘keeper Karl Dryden hasn’t had a great deal to do. Then there were a couple of big moments. With about ten minutes to go, Wilson (Kneeshaw) has gone through again and hit the post and if he had scored and it goes to 3-1, I think it would have been game over.”

He went on: “Belper have brought a substitute on who can throw the ball into the box but I didn’t feel we were under too much pressure. Then we were in their box and pulled the ball back trying to score a third and they have broke and the centre half (Sidik Atcha) has picked the ball up and has hit an unbelievable strike with the outside of his right foot into the top corner. Without being disrespectful, I’ll give him 100 attempts at doing that again and I reckon he’ll not score more than one!”

He concluded: “It’s a tough one to take because I thought our performance today was as good as I’ve seen from us all season and some of our football was fantastic. We’ve worked a lot on our play in and around the penalty area in terms of being patient; not needing to score with every attack and waiting for the right moment and I thought it was excellent today. I’m just a little bit disappointed for them (the players) as I thought our efforts and showing warranted the three points.”

NUFC (SENIOR CUP) – TICKETING UPDATE

Our ground capacity has now been confirmed at 1,500 for this game. We’re expecting a big crowd and it will be first come first served.

We’ve opened online sales to Ashington season ticket holders this morning (when logged into their online account) and they will have first chance of purchasing tickets. This will run until Saturday morning.

On Saturday when we take on Grimsby Borough we will be selling tickets in person from 1:30pm. You can buy tickets for this game at:

https://ashingtonafc.ktckts.com/event/asn2324home17/ashington-afc-vs-grimsby-borough

Any remaining tickets will be put on general sale from Monday 25th March.

Tickets are priced as usual at £9 for adults, £5 for senior citizens and students and £3 for Under 16’s. Unfortunately due to the increased costs of hosting this game we are unable to offer our usual online discount.

We will be announcing hospitality offers in the near future but are on the lookout for a match sponsor. Sponsorship is available at £1050 (inclusive of VAT) and will include hospitality for 10, your logo on all advertising and a year long pitch side advertising board. Existing sponsors can access the package at a discounted rate. Expressions of interest should be sent to hospitality@ashingtonafc.com .

Any media requests should be sent to media@ashingtonafc.com

THOMSON SETS HIMSELF A NEW GOALS TARGET

By Brian Bennett

“I’VE GOT A REVISED FIGURE IN MY HEAD – ONLY I’M NOT GOING TO DIVULGE WHAT IT IS!”

Ashington FC’s on-loan striker Connor Thomson has set himself a new goals target – only he’s keeping the figure a closely guarded secret!

Thomson – who celebrated his 28th birthday last month – linked up with the Colliers in mid October from Morpeth Town but last week the two clubs agreed to extend his loan until the end of the season.

The hotshot forward netted the winner in Ashington’s 3-2 victory over Consett on Saturday – which was his 16th goal of the campaign and he said afterwards: “I’m absolutely buzzing. When I first came to the club, I wanted to score goals and get assists and I’m delighted with both aspects. I initially set myself a target of ten (goals) and I’ve exceeded that so I’ve got a revised figure in my head – only I’m not going to divulge what it is!”

Newcastle-born Thomson described his goal on Saturday – which brought Ashington their first win at the Belle View Stadium in eight years: “Darren Lough gave me the ball and I took a touch inside,” he said, “I just wanted to hit it (the ball) as hard as I could towards goal and luckily enough it struck someone’s foot and lobbed over the ‘keeper and dropped into the back of the net. Yes it got a deflection but I’ll take it – and with five minutes remaining, it was a great time to score. We needed those three points as well so it proved to be massive.”

Ashington boss Ian Skinner has challenged his players to go through until the end of the season unbeaten and Thomson is hoping they can not only do that but find some consistency: “When I came to the club in October, we got some real good momentum going but then we hit a bit of an off patch where we lost a bit of form,” he added, “We seemed to get our form back and then it dropped off again which is similar to a lot of teams in this league where you can’t seem to find a good routine. However, if we keep pushing and believing in ourselves then I reckon we should be fine for the rest of the season.”

Manager Skinner added: “We are delighted to extend Connor’s loan. He has now scored 16 goals for us and that speaks for itself.”

EXLEY: “IT WAS GOOD TO SCORE ON MY COMEBACK – BUT SECURING THE WIN WAS THE ICING ON THE CAKE”

By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC defender Charlie Exley said that winning the game at Consett on Saturday was the ‘main thing’ – after he had made a goalscoring return to action having been ruled out for the last four and a half months with an ankle injury.

With the scores locked at 1-1 and 20 minutes remaining, Exley was thrust into the fray along with Cam Gascoigne and the two substitutes combined to put their side 2-1 up with the latter setting the ball up for Exley to lash home left footed.

Although Dan Capewell equalised a second time in the contest for the Steelmen, Connor Thomson bagged the three points for the Wansbeck outfit five minutes from time which saw Ashington claim their first win in eight years on the artificial surface at the Belle View Stadium.

Newcastle-born Exley said that he was ‘ready’ and ‘felt comfortable’ to return to action. Earlier in the week he had been named amongst the substitutes – although he didn’t feature – when Ashington drew 3-3 against Pontefract Collieries in West Yorkshire.

“I got the injury at the beginning of November in our away game at Grantham,” said Exley, “I had an MRI scan which showed a miniature break to my ankle. There were no chippings so it didn’t require surgery but its left deep lying bruising which can take a while to go away. I resumed training 4-6 weeks ago and was named on the bench last Tuesday. I was ready if required and I felt comfortable knowing that if I had to come on that I would be fine.”

On Saturday, Exley was again named as a substitute (at Consett) and just shy of the half way mark in the second period, was given the nod by manager Ian Skinner.

Five minutes later, the 23 year old netted with a fine left foot finish: “It was quite a clean strike and against my former club – even though I’ve still got some really good friends at Consett,” he said, “It was just a relief to get back on the pitch and play and I just tried to be positive when I came on. I thought the game was crying out for someone to spark a bit of life and intensity into it and I thought Cam (Gascoigne) and I did well – we compliment ourselves in different ways.”

Exley – a street lighting electrician – went on: “When I get injuries they tend to be serious – so with my fingers crossed, my target is to finish the season unscathed and help the lads to push on because we should be further up the table. It was good to score on my comeback but securing the win was the icing on cake.”

SKINNER ON THE RETURN TO ACTION OF BUDDLE & EXLEY

By Brian Bennett

Skipper Nathan Buddle and defender Charlie Exley both returned to action for Ashington following lengthy spells on the sidelines as the Colliers chalked up an eye catching 3-2 win over Consett at the Belle View Stadium on Saturday.

Buddle was on the injured list for two months earlier in the season with an ankle problem before he played in the 4-0 win over Hebburn Town on Boxing Day. He then slipped two discs in his back which has seen him ruled out for the past two and a half months.

Meanwhile Exley – out of action since he sustained an ankle injury in the 2-2 draw at Grantham in early November – returned to the squad in Ashington’s 3-3 draw at Pontefract in midweek where he was an unused substitute.

Woodhorn Lane boss Ian Skinner said of Buddle: “Nathan has trained for two weeks and it was a case of when could we find the right opportunity to get him back involved. Si Jakab pulled out with an illness so Nathan came in on Saturday and he did well. Ideally we didn’t want to leave him out on the pitch for as long as we did – but needs must.”

On Exley, Skinner said: “Charlie has been out for a good while but he’s been back in training for the last 4-5 weeks. We just wanted to be sure and get the results of his MRI scan which came back positive and he’s been itching to return. Obviously he’ll be delighted after coming on from the bench to his face his old club (Consett) – and also getting on the score sheet.”

SKINNER LAYS DOWN NEW CHALLENGE TO HIS PLAYERS:

By Brian Bennett

“We now have nine league games left and the challenge to the players is can we go through until the end of the season unbeaten.”

Understandably, Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner wore a broad smile on his face after seeing his side come out on top with a 3-2 victory over Consett on Saturday.

Now the boss has laid down a new challenge to his players – asking them if they can go through until the end of the campaign unbeaten.

“I was very happy with the result at Consett today,” said Skinner afterwards, “There were lots of parts of the performance to be pleased with yet there were a couple of things that frustrated me in terms of us being a little bit loose and slack. We got off to the perfect start being 1-0 up after 24 seconds. Without being disrespectful, for 40 minutes in that first period, we must have dominated the ball in and around the Consett penalty area and dominated territory whilst I think they probably got into our half on a handful of occasions. Albeit they did flash a shot wide of the post and then our ‘keeper Karl Dryden has made a very good save from their full back who has hit a long range drive but we just became a little bit too loose and slack with that final pass, making wrong decisions or taking shots on when it wasn’t the right situation. We almost tried to score with every attack instead of being a little bit more patient in the build up and making sure we fashioned a good opportunity. We knew Consett’s strengths were set plays. They are a big side and whilst it’s 1-0 in a game, it’s always finely in the balance and we were on the end of the perfect sucker punch right on half time. Karl Dryden has come and made a save from a corner and it’s dropped to Dan Capewell who has put it into the net.”

He continued: “At half time I was really frustrated that it was 1-1 given all of the domination we had had and then second half it was a little bit more even. We managed to go 2-1 up after we made a couple of substitutions. I thought we started to look a little bit leggy in terms of having travelled to Pontefract to play on Tuesday on a heavy pitch so we introduced a little bit of freshness – and both Cam Gascoigne and Charlie Exley who came on did really, really well to be fair. They combined for the second goal and you think ‘great – we are 2-1 up – can we get back to dominating the ball?’ But straight from kick off Consett have played a diagonal ball; we’ve headed it back inside and there’s been a great block but the ball has gone for a corner – one of their strengths. Karl (Dryden) has come for the ball and some people were saying he was fouled, I’m not sure – I would probably be upset if a decision was given against us in that situation. Karl has dropped it (the ball) and Capewell has bundled it into the net to make it 2-2. However, we kept going and got our just rewards – Connor (Thomson) scoring aided by a little bit of good fortune with a deflection which took the ball over the goalkeeper.”

He went on: “Even for the last five or six minutes I was just frustrated in terms of we’ve got to get on the ball and play – we went long and we are not a side who can play long. All that did was to invite Consett to keep sending the ball back in and they pushed the centre backs up. Thankfully we held on – and across the whole game we deserved the win. However, I am irritated because when we were on top in the first half we needed to be more ruthless and clinical. If we had been, the game would have been put to bed inside half an hour. But we’ve won which is the main thing. We now have nine league games left and the challenge to the players is can we go through until the end of the season unbeaten.”