Author: Mark Fitton

COYLES: “THE LADS ARE CHOMPING AT THE BIT TO GET BACK ON THE PITCH”

By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC’s assistant manager Andy Coyles – speaking ahead of the Colliers’ home clash against Newton Aycliffe in the Pitching In Northern Premier League East Division on Saturday (December 16), said the players are ‘chomping at the bit’ to return to competitive action.

Following a cold snap, the rain – which has resulted in a glut of fixtures being called off over the past week due to waterlogged pitches – continued to fall on the Woodhorn Lane surface on Tuesday night. However looking forward and clinging to the hope that the game against the Newtonians will get the go ahead on Saturday, Coyles said: “Newton Aycliffe will be a difficult side to face. In fact if I was a neutral looking at the fixtures, I would probably go to this game because I would say it will arguably be a meeting between two of the best footballing sides in the league. I imagine there’ll be a lot of good football on display and played in the right way too – and fingers crossed I think the weather is looking good so that’s certainly encouraging news. To finally get a match on will be just the tonic because the lads are chomping at the bit to get back out onto the pitch.”

He continued: “Training has been good. Sometimes it’s difficult when you are anticipating games being either on or off – but the players have stuck at it and their attitudes have been brilliant. It’s certainly worth noting that even the lads who have been out injured for a long time have shown there support towards their team mates who were out there training and it just shows the togetherness of the group. There is a really good feeling and atmosphere around the camp and a lot of that has to do with our recent results where we went on a five game unbeaten run, prior to the loss to Liversedge in our last match.”

Meanwhile Coyles gave an encouraging update on the injury front with Cam Gascoigne, Nathan Buddle and Darren Lough all back in training and eligible for selection on Saturday whilst Charlie Exley is to start light running next week. Coyles said of Exley: “It’s a positive because we thought he was going to be out for a while.”

Meanwhile the assistant boss added that Jordan Summerly has more of a long term injury and that the management are monitoring the injury to Dan Maguire on a “week to week” basis.

“The majority of the players are back from knocks and that’s only good news for the team – but on the management front it’s going to cause a number of selection headaches!” added Coyles, “We gained the good results of late despite having all of these players sidelined and it just goes to show how well the lads have done who have actually been selected, started games and who have been out there on the pitch.”

Saturday’s kick-off against Newton Aycliffe is 3pm then the Colliers travel to face Sheffield FC for a 7.45pm start on Tuesday (December 19).

ROSS: “WE WANT TO START ANOTHER GOOD RUN”

By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC’s vice captain Karl Ross admitted that his team mates have endured a ‘frustrating’ couple of weeks due to inclement weather conditions but with the forecast set to improve are hoping to begin another positive run of results in the Pitching In Northern Premier League East Division.

If the Colliers home clash against Newton Aycliffe goes ahead on Saturday (December 16), it will not only be their first competitive game since the 2-0 defeat against Liversedge three weeks ago but also the start of a run of nine games in the space of 29 days!

Ross who is based in Cramlington said: “It’s been a frustrating time training and then having no game. The lads were on a good run before the loss to Liversedge and we were eager for games to be played so as to continue the momentum and hopefully bounce back and return to winning ways.”

The 25 year old continued: “There are a lot of matches in a short space of time especially over the Christmas period but it is what it is. The lads enjoy getting together and playing football and hopefully we can put smiles on the faces of our supporters.”

He went on: “We are certainly looking forward to the challenge and just want to go on another good run.”

SKINNER: “IT’S NEVER AN EASY PLACE TO GO TO”

By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner says his outfit face a ‘difficult task’ – when they make the short journey to face West Allotment Celtic at East Palmersville in the quarter finals of the Newcastle Flooring Senior Cup.

The draw was made last week and the Woodhorn Lane boss said: “It’s a tough draw for us because West Allotment is never an easy place to go to and get a result. They are a good well organised side and on their day can beat anybody – so we’ll have to make sure that when we go there, we prepare properly.”

He continued: “We’ve got quite a few games to play before the clash so we’ll have to see how the squad and our season pans out. We may look to mix and match slightly but it’s a competition which we will be taking seriously. We are at the quarter final stage and we want to try and do as well as we can because it’s the last knockout competition we are left in.”

SKINNER: “SIR BOBBY WAS ONE OF OUR OWN – AND NEVER FORGOT HIS ROOTS”

By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner has spoken poignantly after the passing of Sir Bobby Charlton last Saturday.

Skinner – a relative of the family – will be in the home dugout on Saturday when Ashington take on Pontefract Collieries and it is sure to be an emotional afternoon.

Before kick off a minutes applause will be held and the club have asked supporters to wear something red as they will be dedicating the game to the memory of Sir Bobby.

Red is to symbolise both Manchester United – where Sir Bobby enjoyed 17 years as a player with the club – as well as it being the colour of the shirts which he and the England players wore when they lifted the World Cup final at Wembley Stadium in 1966.

Skinner said: “I got a phone call just before midday from my dad who let me know the sad news that Sir Bobby had passed and we got a couple of hours to get our heads around it as a family. Everybody is fully aware that he was Manchester based but probably the only time I saw him in recent years was at family funerals. You just need to look at the outpouring grief and condolences from all around the world to show what a gent Sir Bobby was and I think Manchester United display a banner in their stadium about him which reads ‘Born in Ashington – Made in Manchester.’

He continued: “Sir Bobby left Ashington as a 15 year old and made a life for himself in Manchester – but he never forgot his roots. In 1989 he brought the Manchester United team to Ashington to help out financially and he did a talk-in at the Comrades club in the town where all of the proceeds went to Ashington Football Club. His passing is a big loss to the family and to the footballing world. I’m sure Sir Bobby will be remembered – he was one of our own.”

SKINNER: “WE FACE A REALLY TOUGH TEST”

by Brian Bennett

Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner says his side face a ‘really tough test’ on Saturday (October 28) when they take on high flying Pontefract Collieries at their Woodhorn Lane ground which they hope will be turned into a sea of red.

The Colliers are dedicating the game to the memory of Sir Bobby Charlton, who sadly passed away last weekend and the club are asking supporters to wear red – the significance being that Sir Bobby wore the red shirt of Manchester United for 17 years – as well as England when they famously won the World Cup in 1966.

Boss Skinner said “After we received the call on Saturday to say our game against Sheffield was postponed, we gave the lads the day off – which is unusual for me – but we are training twice this week for what will be a really tough test at home to Pontefract Collieries. They have started the season really well and are in the play off places but we’ll be doing what we always do – whereby we’ve gathered some information on them and we’ll prepare as best we can. We’ll look at ways in which we can exploit some of areas to cause them one or two problems and I think it’ll be a good game.”

On the injury front, Skinner added that the past few days have brought mixed fortunes: “The only plus point with us not playing last weekend is that we have got one or two of the lads who have been carrying knocks and niggles and it has given us a little bit longer for them to clear up,” he said, “Oli Thompson has probably got a great chance of being back and involved on Saturday – albeit we have lost Dan Maguire who has had a little minor operation and will be out for a couple of weeks while he recovers.”

Skinner said that following his sides 4-0 thrashing against Winterton Rangers in North Lincolnshire, confidence had returned to the squad: “Obviously coming off the back of such a positive result at Winterton, all you want to do is for the next game to come along as quickly as it can,” he commented, “Confidence in the camp was high because that’s what winning games of football does to you. We were very much looking forward to going to Sheffield and the history that goes it, with them (Sheffield) being the oldest football club in the world. We were confident we could go there and continue our form and start to put a run of results together but the weather beat us. However when you see pictures of some of the places which were affected as badly as they were by Storm Babet and where a couple of people lost their lives because of it, football pales into insignificance.”

Saturday’s kick-off is 3pm.

COYLES: “WE’LL BE TREATING THE SENIOR CUP SERIOUSLY”                           

By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC’s assistant manager Andy Coyles has said that the Woodhorn Lane club will be treating Tuesday night’s match against Newcastle University in the Newcastle Flooring Senior Cup seriously.

Its ten years since the Colliers last won the competition – with a 3-0 victory over Whitley Bay at St James’ Park – and Coyles commented: “It’s a competition which we will be treating seriously and we’ll be going for it – it’s as simple as that. We’ll be managing the minutes of the boys as well but we are fortunate that we have got a big group and we’ll be making sure they are fit, fresh and ready to go.”

Ashington were without a fixture at the weekend and Coyles – who praised the supporters last week for showing their understanding – is hoping for another good turn out on the terraces. He said: “To be honest after we won 3-1 against Dunston, it was a shame that we didn’t have a fixture on Saturday. It will not be an easy game on Tuesday night and our fans can play their part. The noise they generate is tremendous and we need them to get behind us.”

Meanwhile Newcastle University – members of the Ebac Northern League second division – make the journey to Wansbeck after recording a 6-4 win over Kendal Town in their Isuzu FA Vase second qualifying round match in Cumbria on Saturday. Kick-off on Tuesday night is 7.30pm.

COYLES: “A MASSIVE THANK YOU TO OUR SUPPORTERS FOR THEIR UNDERSTANDING”

By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC’s assistant manager Andy Coyles poured praise on the supporters at the Woodhorn Lane based club following Saturday’s 3-1 win over Dunston UTS and thanked them for showing ‘understanding.’

Coyles said: “We appreciate that we have had a tough time of late and that the majority of supporters have stuck by us. It’s quite easy to jump on the bandwagon and say its all doom and gloom – but its not. We worked exceptionally hard to get to where we did last season (clinching promotion to the Pitching In Northern Premier League’s East Division) and the supporters were a huge part of that – and so far they are a huge part of what we are doing this year.”

Whitehaven-born Coyles continued: “People can get caught up in the hype where you haven’t won for a few games and think its all doom and gloom – but were only six games in – we’ve got 32 games left to play and it’s a long season. We were trying to relay that message to the players that they needed to start and find their mojo and going back to enjoying their football because that’s why you do it.”

He went on: “What I’d like is for the fans to be patient and to continue with the support which they have shown today (against Dunston UTS) and I’d like to say a massive, massive thank you to them for their understanding. We are finding our feet in this league and when we find them properly, we’ve be a force to be reckoned with.”

SPOONER: “I WAS HAPPY – BUT THE MOST IMPORTANT THING WAS THE WIN”

By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC’s Craig Spooner played down what was an exceptional goal by the midfielder on Saturday – instead stressing the importance of the result.

The Colliers won their first game at home this term with a 3-1 verdict over Dunston UTS – the side that had knocked them off the Isuzu FA Trophy trail the previous week.

Shortly after half time and with the scores locked at 1-1, Spooner stepped up to curl in a stunning free kick from 20 yards: “To be honest, I thought it was a bit too close to the goal for my range,” said the 24 year old, “I just tried to get the ball over the wall and hit the target – and luckily I did that as the ‘keeper (Dan Staples) stood still. However whilst I was happy to get on the score sheet the most important thing was that we got the three points and hopefully we can now kick on and win more games.”

The Colliers were reduced to nine men after Simon Jakab and skipper Nathan Buddle were both dismissed with 25 minutes remaining plus the ten (minutes) which were added on and Spooner admitted that the effort put in on the park was tremendous: “We played out with nine players on Tuesday night at Newton Aycliffe,” he said, “but the difference was that we were losing 2-0 – whereas today we were 3-1 ahead. I thought we showed character by blocking shots and still doing the right things and making sure that we didn’t concede. We kept things tight and just made sure we came away with the three points.”

VAN-ZANDVLIET: “MY SECOND GOAL WAS DEFINITELY ONE OF MY BEST”

By Brian Bennett

Paul Van-Zandvliet bagged a brace on his home debut on Saturday as Ashington chalked up a 3-1 home win over Dunston UTS.

And afterwards, the 22 year old admitted that his second goal which arrived in the 54th minute ranks as one of the best in his career: “It’s a while since I last scored two goals in a game so that in itself was a pleasure,” he said afterwards, “We’re winning the game 2-1 and Ben Sampson has given me the ball and there’s not loads of pressure on me. I had to hit it really (the ball) and what a goal it was going into the top corner and it’s definitely one of my best ever.”

That strike may have put the cherry on the cake but the North Shields-born midfielder had also given his side the lead in the ninth minute: “It was good play from the lads,” he said, “Nathan Buddle played the ball to Simon Yakab who moved it on to Matty Dopson who advanced up the pitch. I made a deep run from midfield and Matty has played an unbelievable pass to slide me in. I then took a touch and just smashed it in. It was good to get a goal on my first home game in front of all the fans, the lads, the management, the club and everyone and I was happy.”

However, the Colliers had to be fully switched on as they played out the final 35 minutes with nine men after Buddle and Yakab had both received their marching orders: “We had something to protect,” added Van-Zandvliet who is an electrical engineer, “so in a way it was good that we had had to do it the other night at Newton Aycliffe with nine men. We had to stay nice and narrow and compact and the attitude of the lads was first class – every single one of them. They put their heart and soul into it and wore the badge on the sleeve – and got the three points which I thought we deserved today.”

Van-Zandvliet joined Ashington from North Shields where he played for five years and he said: “I’d like to place on record my thanks to North Shields because my time there was unbelievable. They paved the way for me and gave me a chance and special mention to Marc Nash, Anthony Woodhouse and Steve Swinyard. Now it’s a new chapter in my footballing career and what a way to start. Credit to manager Ian Skinner, Andy Coyles, Ritchie Hill and all the lads as they have made it really easy for me to settle in. Everyone knows that Ashington are an unbelievable club with a great set up; stadium; pitch and fans and it’s a pleasure and an honour to come and play for the club.”

Van-Zandvliet said following Saturday’s win that the dressing room is ‘buzzing’. “To play against Dunston, go down to nine men and win 3-1 – what a way to get your first win,” he added, “The lads are buzzing in the changing rooms and this is a good chance for us to go on a little run – we know what it takes and now its all about consistency.”

COYLES: “THE LADS PLAYED WITH SMILES ON THEIR FACES”

By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC’s assistant manager Andy Coyles said his lads played with ‘smiles on their faces’ in the terrific but eventful 3-1 win over Dunston UTS at Woodhorn Lane on Saturday.

Paul Van-Zandvliet scored a brace on his home debut whilst midfielder Craig Spooner netted with an excellent set piece which deservedly put the Colliers on the path to record their first home win of the season in the Pitching In Northern Premier League East Division.

But it was not all straight forward for the Wansbeck club who had to play out the last 35 minutes with only nine men after Simon Jakab and skipper Nathan Buddle were red carded in the same phase of the game by referee Scott Henry.

Incredibly it was the second time in the space of five days that Ashington had been reduced by two in number after Charlie Exley and Karl Ross had been sent off in the 2-0 defeat at Newton Aycliffe in midweek.

Coyles said afterwards: “There was so much emotion going into the game with disappointment behind us over the previous weeks where we played really well and just hadn’t been decisive enough to get that elusive win. Since the victory over Stocksbridge, we just felt like we’d had our backs constantly against the wall with things not going right for us at the right times whereas today everybody – from the people up in the stands to the players on the pitch and the staff came together and you could just see a real togetherness – and what a difference it made. When you don’t win games it’s hard to enjoy yourself but today all of the lads looked like they played at times with smiles on their faces – and I think that was another huge difference.”

Van-Zandvliet put the Colliers ahead in the ninth minute but Coyles was quick to point out: “The first 30 minutes was a replica of every first half hour we’ve played so far this season. We were excellent and the 1-0 advantage which Paul gave us was a just reward for the standard and quality of football we played. They (Dunston) got back into the game but we were still quite happy. Half time was a bit different to the last three games where we’ve gone in quite frustrated and disappointed and there have been a few words said here and there whereas today it was all positive. We said we needed to fine tune a couple of things and we’ve come out for the second half in quite a few games where we have been dreadful – and I think the lads will fully admit and acknowledge that – whereas today was different. We started the period all guns blazing, running for each other and I thought they (Dunston) struggled to deal with that quickness and sharpness very early doors. On top of that, we scored two really good goals. I’m chuffed to bits for Craig Spooner whilst Paul Van-Zandvliet netted with two fantastic strikes and when you put yourself into a 3-1 lead you pretty much think that the game is over. However, it was the start for me because of what we had to do after that when we went down to nine men – but what a performance by those nine players to keep the score line the way it was and to see out the game the way they did.”

In the first half after Dunston had levelled through Jordan Lamb, Coyles was delighted with Ashington’s response: “We’ve had this negative mindset when we’ve gone a goal behind,” he added, “Heads have gone down for five or six minutes but this is something which we have addressed leading up to today. Having equalised, Dunston nearly scored in quick succession but our ‘keeper Karl Dryden has made a terrific save and after that scare, I thought we got back on top and the lads controlled the game really well – even when we were defending for our lives in those final 35 minutes. We managed the contest in terms of just defending the box and I thought the decision making today from minute one to minute 102 was fantastic.”

The 38 year old, who is based in Richmond, continued: “We played with nine men for 35 minutes on Tuesday night against Newton Aycliffe so it shows the resilience of the boys and shows their fitness and energy levels with what they have had to give. They stuck to the game plan as soon as we had the two players sent off and they carried it out exceptionally well – so fair play to them. They’ll have put a lot more in as well because they have been down to nine men in two games over five days.”

Ashington are without a fixture on Saturday but return to action on Tuesday (September 26) when they take on Newcastle University in the Newcastle Flooring Senior Cup at Woodhorn Lane where kick-off is 7.30pm.