Author: Mark Fitton


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.


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.”


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.”


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.”


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.


By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner says he and his Woodhorn Lane outfit will not deviate from their style of football.

In his postmatch press conference after his outfit had lost their third league game of the season by a 2-0 scoreline at Bridlington on Saturday, Skinner commented: “It was obviously a disappointing result but there were lots of things to be pleased about. Max Emmerson pulled up in the warm up and I’m not looking for excuses but we are not quite getting the rub of the green at the moment in terms of being able to name a consistent team or a consistent squad. However, the way we play is the way I want us to play and it’s the way the players want to play. People might look at it and say ‘we are trying to over complicate it’ – but that’s my style and that’s the way I like to see the game played and only time will tell if its good enough. Yes there is an element of frustration because in terms of the way I want us to play reflects my philosophy on football; it suits the group of players we’ve got; its probably pole opposite to what you will get in this league from other teams – but I’ll stick to our beliefs; our process; and our principals – I keep asking the players to do the same – and the lads enjoy playing the way we want to play.”

Reflecting on Saturday’s game, Skinner said: “I thought some of our play in the first half was really good. We dominated possession again and they (Bridlington) didn’t offer much of a threat. However, I thought we started the second half really poorly and conceded two poor goals but for the last 25 minutes we were by far the best team and were on top. We created some good opportunities and got into some really good areas but weren’t really as clinical as we should be. In fear of sounding like a broken record, we need to learn and learn fast. We have spoken about it over the last seven to ten days and until we learn that this league is about – and quickly – we will have a fight on our hands. I’ve got no doubts that the group are more than capable of being successful in this league but until we learn about the defensive side of the game and what the opposition will bring and the players know what we need to do to do that, then it’ll be a long hard season.”

He went on: “Obviously we don’t enjoy losing games of football and I just think the sooner we learn to be more difficult to score against, the quicker we will start to go on a run of positive results. It’s just about keep working hard; sticking to the plan; sticking to the philosophy and sticking to the way we want to play. I believe in it; the players believe in it and the sooner we can eradicate the goals that we are conceding at present which are soft in truth, the sharper we will start picking up more positive results. But I’m not going to change who I am; I’m not going to change the way I want to play nor am I going to change my beliefs on football.”

Meanwhile as Skinner prepares his squad for the Isuzu FA Trophy match away to Dunston UTS on Saturday (September 9), he said Paul Van-Zandvliet whom he has signed from North Shields: “Paul should be available to come into contention for next weekend (v Dunston) – he’s 6’ 4” and knows what this league is all about. He’ll be able to offer us that more physical side of things so that will be a positive.”


“It’s a tough draw – and I don’t think we have got a fantastic record there”

By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner will lay down a challenge to his side ahead of
Saturday’s trip to face Stockton Town in the preliminary round of the Emirates FA Cup.

The Woodhorn Lane boss said: “It’s a tough draw and I don’t think we have got a
fantastic record there so the challenge to the lads is an obvious one. We’ll certainly need
to defend better than we did against Brighouse Town that’s for sure because the
Stockton front line is one of the best in the division. We’ll prepare properly as we always
do and do our homework on them – albeit we know quite a bit about them already and
we’ll go there looking to try and win – just as we do in every single game we compete in.”

Nathan Buddle picked up an injury in the days leading up to Ashington’s opening game
in the Northern Premier League against Brighouse last Saturday and Skinner said: “We
were dealt a bit of a blow on Thursday after training when we lost Nathan (Buddle) and
with Jordan Summerly also ruled out, we had to change two of the back four which had
kept a clean sheet against North Shields in our FA Cup win and that might have
contributed slightly towards our downfall in terms of defending our box against

He went on: “We’ll need to check on the fitness of one or two players including Nathan
(Buddle) but I reckon it’ll be touch and go for him this weekend.”

Meanwhile defender Darren Lough is looking forward to a hard clash on Teesside:
“Stockton is not an easy place to go to,” he said, “I have played there a couple of times
before on the artificial pitch and they (Stockton) play nice football. However, we also
play nice football so it’s going to be a hard game and if we don’t win then hopefully we
can get a draw and bring them back to our place for a replay. Our run in the FA Cup last
season was great and we have some new faces in the squad this time round it so it
would be fantastic if we could have another journey like last year.”

Ashington and Stockton: A history of cup competition.

This is the first meeting between Ashington and Stockton Town in the FA Cup but it’s not the first time the Collier’s have taken on teams from the Teesside town in the competition.

On 27th November 1926 the Colliers disposed of Stockton in the first round of the FA Cup by the odd goal in three at the Victoria Ground. The Collier’s were unlucky not to have scored when those in attendance thought a strike had crossed the line after hitting the underside of the bar and then were unlucky not to have been awarded a penalty. Stockton though were equal to the Third Division North side for much of the game. The Colliers took the lead on 40 minutes when Watson headed past Murray in the Stockton goal.

Three minutes after half time the home side were level. After Ridley could only partially clear Smith hit a splendid shot that hit the back of the net. After a tough period of pressure from the home side the Colliers again took the lead. After Murray had failed to clear his lines Randall seized his opportunity to score his first goal of the season for Ashington’s senior side and put them into the next round. That season the Colliers had their best ever run in the competition eventually being beaten at home to Nottingham Forest in the third round in front of

The Collier’s again drew the Victoria Park side in the 1929-30 competition. 1200 spectators were present on 16th November 1929 at Portland Park to see Ashington progress to the next round. After the first half ended goalless the second period was much more lively with Stockton entering the field a man short. Despite their man advantage Ashington fell behind when Smith smashed a penalty home for Stockton. Four minutes later however, the Colliers were level through Pearson.

Price put the home side ahead with a penalty and Turnbull added a third soon after sending an already enthusiastic crowd wild. Longstaff reduced the arrears before Turnbull got his second of the game from a free kick. The Collier’s were knocked out of the competition in the next round against Rotherham United.

When the sides were next draw in the FA Cup it was the Teesside team who would progress though no game was ever played. In 1962 when the sides were drawn together the Colliers withdrew from the competition their then chairman Mr Nunn saying “We cannot afford to continue in the competition”. Davy Davidson the teams manager went further “The fact it, it is time that the amateur clubs contented themselves with their own competition, and left the FA Cup to the professional sides”. Ashington have competed in every season of the FA Cup since.

On September 18th 1965 the clubs met again at Victoria Park with the Colliers unbeaten. After only 20 minutes however they were dealt a huge blow when Ronnie Routledge was unable to stop a powerful drive by Jones and crashed into the post badly bruising his leg. The Colliers keeper was unable to continue and replaced in nets by outfield player Ron Heckley. Moor and Fuller grabbed further goals for the home side with Blackhall grabbing what was a consolation.

We’ve also played sides from Stockton in the FA Vase playing both Saturday’s opponents and Norton and Stockton Ancients in the competition, the later side inheriting the remaining assets of Stockton FC when they were wound up.

Goals from Hunt and Hayton helped the Colliers into the next round back in 1987 as the Colliers saw off Norton and Stockton Ancients 2-1 at Portland Park. In the 2011/12 season a solitary goal from Jonny Godsmark just after half time propelled Ashington to the next round of the competition against the same opponents at Woodhorn Lane.

Games against Stockton Town in the competition have not been so successful. On 3rd November 2018 the Colliers were beaten 4-1 at Bishopton Road. A Goal from Woodhouse and a brace from Roberts had the home side 3-0 at half time. Glen Caygill pulled one back for the visitors but Mulligan wrapped up the victory on 75 minutes. On 31st August 2019 Goals from Hayes (2) Robinson and Owens gave the Anchors a 4-0 victory at Bishopton Road.


By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner heaped praise on referee Givi Todua following the
thrilling 4-4 draw against Brighouse Town on Saturday.

The Colliers had reduced the deficit to 4-3 when with time running out, a long clearance
by ‘keeper Karl Dryden led to a dramatic 97 th minute equaliser.

The ball was headed on then home supporters were vociferous in their appeals for a
penalty for a handling offence inside the area before Darren Lough coolly found the
bottom corner of the net.

And Skinner was quick to point out that the match official had played an ‘excellent’
advantage: “One special mention to the referee at the end,” said the Woodhorn Lane
boss, “In the build up to Darren’s goal there is a handball and the assistant has flagged.
The referee has gone to ‘give it’ then allowed himself a couple of seconds to see what
happens. I know people can sometimes be very quick to criticise officials so I would say
‘fair play’ to the referee in terms of it being an excellent advantage.”


By Brian Bennett

The volume levels amongst supporters at Woodhorn Lane went up a few notches on
Saturday when Darren Lough scored a dramatic 97 th minute equaliser for Ashington
against Brighouse Town.

The goal was the final piece of action crammed into a pulsating encounter – in what was
the Colliers first game in the Northern Premier League for 55 years.

However, Lough played down the euphoria afterwards and said that whilst it was good
to open his account, the goal meant very little: “I don’t score many (goals) and I don’t get
myself in that situation very often,” he said, “but whilst it was nice (to score), it doesn’t
really mean much when we haven’t picked up three points from a game we should be
potentially winning.”

The Ashington-born defender – who said it was the first time he had played in a 4-4
draw – described his goal: “It was a long ball which got flicked on,” he commented, “I
touched it with my right foot and when I was going for the flick on, it came off the
defender’s arm. I appealed for a penalty but the ball dropped nicely onto my left foot. I
took another touch then drilled it – and fortunately it went into the bottom corner.”

Reflecting on the game where Ashington conceded three of the four goals from set
plays, the 33 year old – an operations manager at Metro Rod – added: “We have got to
be stronger at defending corners and need to sharpen up quickly. We’ve gone up a

league and the teams are more physical and know how to play. A lot of our lads have
played in this league and above and as a team we need to be stronger collectively; work
hard and clear our lines. We have got a lot of character in the squad and a lot of players
who are great on the ball and who can produce something out of nothing and we know
we are going to create opportunities and score goals. We have worked hard in pre
season to make sure that we get the defending side of things right but it has been one of
those days where there have been four errors and we have been punished for every