By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner looked on as his outfit gave an under par display which culminated in a 2-0 home defeat against Consett at Woodhorn Lane on Bank Holiday Monday afternoon.

And afterwards, the boss issued a no-nonsense message to his squad when he said: “Our performance today was nowhere near good enough – and I’ll not tolerate many more like that. People might read that and think that it is harsh given that we probably dominated the ball – but I just thought that in a nutshell we’ve played 97 minutes and haven’t had a shot on target. What we saw today was a Consett team who threw their bodies in the way and made it so difficult for us to score – then if you flip that over at the two goals which we have conceded, they are really, really soft – and that’s being polite. That’s already a catalogue of goals so far against us this season which are really soft and we need to work harder without the ball that’s for sure. If the truth be known, I’m frustrated, disappointed and annoyed and the key message from me today is that goals win games – it’s as simple as that. We could have played until training on Thursday night and not scored because our play was too slow.”

He continued: “Whenever we regained the ball, we didn’t move it quick enough, We try and play in a certain way but I thought when we got in the attacking half, we allowed Consett to get in behind the ball and it was similar to our game against Ossett. Albeit I thought we probably deserved something from the Ossett match for the chances we had but today we were too slow and too pedestrian in moving the ball in the attacking half. It’s very disappointing especially when we’ve come off the back of a good result on Saturday down at Stocksbridge and we really wanted to follow it up with a positive result at home because we’ve now played three games at Woodhorn Lane and have taken one point. The attendance was just under 700 today and we’ve had three fantastic crowds. They may be seeing us having a lot of the ball but we need to be creating more chances and being more clinical in the final third.”

He went on: “I don’t know if I jinked Mason Hardy after he scored the winner at Stocksbridge on Saturday. Following the game I said that he was one of the best finishers at the club. Today he’s had two huge chances – one a header then another with a clear sight at goal and he’s hit the post!”

The boss admitted to being in a ‘catch 22 situation’ ahead of the game: “In hindsight I probably should have changed one or two personnel and freshened the team up a little bit today,” he added, “Having played on Saturday then its really difficult because if you freshen it up and change it people will say ‘well you won on Saturday.’ So it was a catch 22 situation because if I changed the team and we didn’t get a positive result people would have said “why did you change it?” I didn’t change the team and we haven’t got a positive result and now people will look and say “They’ve played two games in three days” – so it’s a one of those.”


By Brian Bennett

Charlie Exley netted his second goal of the season for Ashington when he scored the opener with a header in their 2-1 win over Stocksbridge Park Steels on Saturday.

And the Newcastle-born left back admitted afterwards that he ‘backed’ himself to score: “It sounds like a cliché but I knew the ball was going to come to the back post and it was just a case of me timing my run right,” he said “I knew if I could get in behind, that I would hit the target and I’m always of the opinion that if I can get a half a yard on anyone, I’ll win the header. That may sound quite a confident and over arrogant thing to say – but I back myself to go with a header because I think people underestimate me for my size and today I got quite a good jump and timed it quite well.”

Exley thought Ashington’s ‘quality’ came to the fore: “As a defender clean sheets are what you want first and foremost and I think we nullified Stocksbridge a lot today forcing them to play long balls. Once we settled in different spells of the game, we showed our quality at times which ultimately got us the two goals and it was a massive win for us. Over the past few matches we have been quite unfortunate with little lapses in concentration which ultimately have been very costly but moving forward I think if we iron those out we’ll be a decent outfit.” The 23 year old also revealed that he is enjoying the rivalry for the left back spot with Jordan Summerly: “Its great competition I have with Jordan,” said Exley, “We know we have to play well with the other right behind – and it is going to make us better players. From my point of view when I’m on the park, it’s just a case of looking to be a constant threat and making sure I defend well.”


By Brian Bennett

Youngster Mason Hardy scored Ashington’s winner in the 2-1 result over Stocksbridge Park Steels on Saturday – and said that the super strike meant ‘the world to him.’

Charlie Exley headed the Colliers in front early in the contest in Sheffield but the hosts levelled with a penalty from Luke Rawson before Hardy struck just shy of the hour mark.

“It was my first goal for the club and it meant the world to me,” he commented afterwards, “but it was also great that we got the win and put three points on the board. When the chanced dropped to me, my aim was to lift the ball over the ‘keeper and hope that it would go in – and thankfully it all worked out well.”

The 18 year old added: “I thought we controlled the game well and it was just a case of trying to see the game out and get the points so at the end I was so happy.” Manager Ian Skinner said: “Mason hasn’t played too many minutes in games but in training what we see is his finishing ability which is second to none at the club and today his goal was sublime – a little chip with the outside of his foot. I was right behind his effort and the ball actually bounced outside of the post and spun in. It was a great finish and I’m delighted for Mason because he’s a lovely lad. He’s quite quiet but technically very, very good and some of his finishing in training is amazing.”


By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner was cock-a hoop after watching his side pick up a 2-1 victory over Stocksbridge Park Steels to claim their first league win of the season.

Reflecting on the performance in South Yorkshire, the boss described the win as being ‘vitally important’ – but that the points could and should have been sealed early doors.

“We have got our first win under our belts which was vitally important because albeit performances have been very good but we hadn’t got possibly the results we deserved from those other games,” he said, “so it was vitally important that we tried to get a win on the board as soon as we could. I thought we started the game really brightly and to be honest, the contest should have been over by the first 15 minutes. We’ve scored a brilliant goal following a good passage of play where we were patient and looked after the ball and worked it out wide to Oli Thompson, He has jinked inside – which we know he can do – then delivered a great ball to the back post and Charlie Exley has nodded it in. Following that, we’ve had two massive chances with Wilson (Kneeshaw) through one on one. He’s had a little bit of a stuttery touch on the first one which allowed the ‘keeper to get really close to him and smother it out and then for the second, it’s a great run by Wilson and a super through ball in behind. Wilson is through again and he bends it around the ‘keeper but it goes just the wrong side of the post – but really that should have been game over.”

He continued: “Two minutes after that we find ourselves hauled back to ones each and it’s frustrating. However, that’s the difference with the league we have moved into because if you make mistakes, you get punished and we need to have that bit of a killer instinct really. In similar respects to the match against Stockton last week, after Stocksbridge equalised, they came into the game and we lost our way a little bit so everything we had done really, really well in the opening quarter of an hour, we struggled to do. We became loose and sloppy in possession; we gave the ball away cheaply and they had a couple of half decent chances – albeit we always looked dangerous on the break.”

Skinner talked about the word ‘confidence’: “I was really disappointed how we started the second half,” he added, “Stocksbridge certainly came out the better outfit and if the truth be know, we scored our second against the run of play. Again Wilson (Kneeshaw) dropped into that little pocket of space and played a great ball in behind for Mason Hardy who finished it off well. Then confidence comes oozing back and what we have got to remember is that we are a relatively young side. When they (Stocksbridge) got the penalty in the first half to equalise, our confidence drained a little bit but when we scored the goal to go back in front, the confidence came back and they (the players) wanted the ball again and we had a couple of spells whereby we kept possession well.” He went on: “Stocksbridge were a constant threat from set plays – an aspect which is a massive part of this league we have gone into. Teams look to utilise it and we are not the biggest or physically the strongest side so I was pleased with the way we defended those set plays and managed the game out really. It made our journey home easier with a ‘W’ (win) in the column and if we can follow that up with another ‘W’ on Monday (against Consett), then all of a sudden two wins on the board makes it a real positive start to the season.”


By Brian Bennett | Photo: Ian Brodie

Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner was naturally disappointed after his side went down to a 1-0 defeat against Ossett United at Woodhorn Lane on Tuesday night.

However, the boss said afterwards, that apart from his outfit needing to learn quickly after conceding poor goals and being more ruthless in the final third, there were lots of things to be pleased with: “I thought we started the game quite brightly and we probably should have been ahead after we fashioned a couple of very good chances,” he commented, “There seemed to be a scramble and we had two or three opportunities inside the space of a few seconds – the Ossett ‘keeper (Joe Green) has done well – and we’ve then hit the bar.”

Skinner admitted that he had missed what turned out to be the only goal of the game: “I turned to speak to somebody as they scored,” he said, “I’ve had their goal described to me but by all accounts it was a disappointing one to concede in terms of a direct ball that’s bounced and the striker has ran onto it – and even then he hasn’t hit it cleanly from what I’m led to believe. Our ‘keeper Karl Dryden has made one save right at the death at the end of the first half where he has pushed the ball out, other than that, he hasn’t had anything to do – but the goal has ultimately cost us to be honest.”

He continued: “For the first 25 minutes, I thought we were very, very good and created some really good opportunities and on another day would have taken one of them. Second half I thought there were lots and lots of things to be pleased with. We must have had 75-80 per cent possession; we’ve flashed the ball across the goal; we’ve put shots wide and the Ossett ‘keeper has made a couple of decent saves. Then Jordan Summerly has done brilliantly to get to the by line and cut the ball back and you’re just waiting for the net to ripple but Wilson Kneeshaw has hit his shot towards the goal and it has struck the ‘keeper on the shoulder – and at that point you start to think ‘maybes it’s not going to be our night.’ Maybes the last couple of games we haven’t had the rub of the green and you think that luck is not on your side – but sometimes you create your own luck.”

He added: “All in all really there were lots to be pleased with but the biggest thing is that it’s two home games now where we have had to go chasing the game and I think what supporters have witnessed tonight, they’ll witness week in week out in this league in terms of most teams play direct; most teams look to get up in the game and when they do that, they look to manage it. There was a spell where we were on top in the second half for about ten minutes then they (Ossett) must have stopped the play every attack. That took the momentum away from us and I was a little bit disappointed there wasn’t a few more minutes added on than the seven that were.”

He went on: “Ultimately to sum it up – it was a poor goal which we conceded which we need to learn from quickly because that’s a number (of poor goals) which we have leaked so far this season in the three matches (two league games and one cup game) whilst we just need to be that little bit more ruthless in the final third.” On Saturday (August 26), Ashington travel to face Stocksbridge Park Steels then on Bank Holiday Monday (August 28), the Colliers take on Consett at Woodhorn Lane (3pm): “We’ll need to check on a few players because we had a couple who had fitness tests before the Ossett game tonight – some played and some didn’t,” he said, “We’ll need to assess the overall picture because we have played tonight (Tuesday) then go again on Saturday and Monday making it three games in six days.”


By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner could not hide his disappointment on Saturday after Kev Hayes had knocked the Colliers out of this season Emirates FA Cup with a goal deep into stoppage time.

Hosts Stockton won the game 2-1. Jordan Summerly put Ashington ahead but home skipper Adam Nicholson levelled before the late drama.

However, Skinner said that the game hinged on a big decision following the 87th minute dismissal of striker Scott Heslop. At the time the scores were locked at 1-1 and the possibly of a replay was on the horizon.

“Obviously we’re disappointed to go out of the Cup especially after conceding so late in the game,” said Skinner afterwards, “Overall I thought to be fair playing against a strong wind in the first half, we rode out luck a little bit in terms of some of the chances Stockton had. That said, on the break we had one or two good opportunities ourselves but we were pleased to come in 0-0 at half time if the truth be known.”

During the break, Skinner introduced Heslop for Cameron Gascoigne: “We thought we could hurt them (Stockton) a little bit with in the wind in our favour and we started the second half really brightly and managed to score from a set play which was good,” added the boss, “However, after that, I was probably a little bit disappointed in our performance. We like to get on the ball and move it and I just felt that at 1-0 we went to direct to quickly which played into Stockton’s hands. Their centre backs wanted the ball up in the air because they were big physical defenders against our small sprightly attackers – albeit Heslop is very good in the air and he caused them all sorts of problems up there. I just wanted us to stick to our process and principals of getting the ball and mixing the game up by playing short at times and playing long and I just felt we went to long to early. The ball was coming back and it turned into a game whereby we invited pressure as the game wore on. We got deeper and deeper because we were playing direct and we were having to get up and move 20, 30, 40 yards up the pitch. When the ball was coming back, we were having to recover 20, 30 yards – so the next time you tend to not go as far up and before you know it, you are ‘sitting in’ a little bit to deep -which I felt happened.”

He continued: “They scored almost a carbon copy goal of ours in terms of an in-swinging corner and a bit of a scramble and the officials have said the ball has crossed the line. At 1-1 you are probably thinking ‘let’s see if we can get a draw and bring them back to Woodhorn Lane on Tuesday’ – but it wasn’t to be. I just thought the unfortunate thing was that they have made the man extra count a little bit and we’ve been on the back foot. To be fair, Karl Dryden has made two or three excellent saves to keep us in it but we’ve just fallen short somewhat 90 seconds from the end. We spoke about not allowing Kev Hayes to cut in from the left which he likes to do and to be fair he’s cut in from the right and opened the goal up and bent one in at the near post.”

He went on: “Overall I probably thought on chances they had a few more than us and Karl Dryden has made more saves than their keeper. But Yannick Aziakonou had a header at the back post; Heslop a header at the near post and Dylan Archer has hit one high towards the top corner which the ‘keeper has palmed around – but the game hinged on a big decision really (the sending off of Scott Heslop).

The result extended Ashington’s winless run at the ground: “It’s strange how it happens in football in terms of even at the very highest level you see teams go to certain grounds and they just can’t seem to get a result – and Stockton seems to be an unhappy hunting ground for us – and it’s proved the case again today,” he added, “Whilst there are other grounds I can think of where we go and we don’t fail to get a result.”
Skinner explained his plans were hit 48 hours before the cup tie: “We were dealt a big blow on Thursday when we lost Charlie Exley, Craig Spooner and Max Emmerson – all through injury,” he said, “Two of those started against Brighouse last week and one came on and had a big impact on the game. Today I thought Jordan Summerly came back in and was excellent as were a couple of others but I think Tuesday will come to soon for Exley, Spooner, Emmerson and Nathan Buddle.”


“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