Category: First Team


By Brian Bennett | Photo: Ian Brodie

Ashington FC’s assistant manager Andy Coyles admitted that the ‘chat’ in the dressing room at the interval proved pivotal on Tuesday night as the Colliers reached the quarter finals of the Newcastle Flooring Senior Cup after a 5-1 win over Newcastle University.

“We said at half time that if the lads from the University had been 3-1 in front they would have deserved it – 100 per cent,” he commented, “We had a couple of opportunities ourselves but they had two one on ones and a penalty and I thought they had the better of the chances. We were open and honest with the lads as we always are and we thought we were very fortunate to be in front. We broke it down and said to them ‘we are 1-0 up and they need to score two goals away from home to actually win the game – lets not make that happen.”

He continued: “It was a classic case of a game of two halves. I thought in the first period we were very poor – poor by our standards considering the standards that we set a week ago against Dunston. We made a few changes in order to protect a few lads going into Saturday’s league game at Cleethorpes – only we couldn’t get going. We got off to a great start with a goal inside two minutes but I think it was probably the worst thing that could have happened to us. Our standards slipped from the minute Declan Bisset put the ball into the back of the net and the way we conducted ourselves and the way we played the game just wasn’t us – it wasn’t what we have been doing.”

He went on: “We had a ‘chat’ at half time and the second half was a lot more promising and a lot more pleasing. We produced a lot more combination play; the link up play was good; decision making was better and as a result we got our just rewards.”

Coyles added that the crowd of 320 had been treated to some ‘great’ goals: “The first which we scored came after excellent build up play out wide and great link up play by Wilson Kneeshaw with Declan Bisset in a great position to score,” he said, “In the second half Declan (Bisset) has added another fantastic goal and I thought he was close to – if not – being the player of the match. Declan and Si Jakab gave two terrific performances and of the lads who came on, I thought Scott Heslop deserves a mention after netting twice and nearly getting a third – but there were some great goals tonight. The University also scored with a fantastic effort in the second half which put us under a lot of pressure at 2-1. However, the job tonight was to win the game and we’ve done that – but we just need to make sure that we don’t replicate that first half performance anytime soon!”


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 is adamant that his players will ‘turn things round’ – as the Colliers slipped down a notch and now occupy fourth from bottom spot in the Northern Premier League East Division table following a 2-0 defeat against Newton Aycliffe on Tuesday night.

Two goals in the last quarter hour of the first half from Jake Petitjean and Kyle Davis secured the points for the home side who as a result, came off the basement and leapfrogged over the Colliers.

It was Ashington’s fourth league defeat of the season and fourth consecutive game where they have failed to score but there were other issues on the night with the Wansbeck side having the play out the final 35 minutes with nine men after Charlie Exley and Karl Ross were sent off either side of half time – both for second yellow card offences.

However Skinner said afterwards: “The players know they need to be better; the management team know that too and it’s a collective whereby we are all as one where we win together and lose together. But I’ve got no doubt that when we maybes get a little bit of a rub of the green in certain situations that we’ll turn it round because we have got too much quality.”

During the interval, the boss brought on Ben Sampson and Scott Heslop for Damen Mullen and Wilson Kneeshaw and shortly after the second dismissal, Craig Spooner was introduced for the injured Dan Maguire.

Skinner had nothing but admiration for the players who completed proceedings: “I’ve got to give a special mention to the nine players that finished the game,” he added, “the effort, desire, commitment and work rate they gave in those 35 minutes was fantastic and was the huge plus point. Every one of them went home knowing that they had done the best they could in a very, very tricky situation. The biggest thing for me is the rest of the players who were here tonight and who witnessed the last 35 minutes with nine men. They need to take that commitment, effort and that work rate into every game we go into because we did it tonight with two players short.”

He continued: “There’s no room for you not to be able to do that otherwise it would have been a far worse situation – but what we have got to start doing is applying that from the first whistle when its 11 v 11. If we do that, I’ve got no doubt that we’ll turn things round because there are some honest players in the group. We’ll work hard in training on Thursday to be better then we go again on Saturday at home to Dunston UTS.”


By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner says his outfit need to ‘smarten up – and fast’ in the wake of Saturday’s 3-0 defeat against Dunston UTS in the first qualifying round of the Isuzu FA Trophy.

Speaking after the reverse, Skinner said: “I have mixed emotions if I’m honest. I thought we started the game really, really brightly; moved the ball really well and caused them (Dunston) lots of problems. Then we have a great move and create a great opportunity for Wilson (Kneeshaw) 12 yards out in front of goal. Yes give Dunston ‘keeper Dan Staples a little bit of credit for saving it but Wilson probably should score from there and it would have given us our just desserts – only it wasn’t to be. That was one of a couple of fantastic opportunities we had to take the lead and they are opportunities we need to start taking because then it makes it a different game. But then we’ve conceded a really poor goal where we’ve allowed the wide man to come inside with no pressure on the ball, cross into the box and Jordan Summerly’s got dragged under the ball and the lad at the back post – unmarked – has scored.”

He continued: “I could see the confidence drain out of everybody with players not quite wanting to get on the ball as much as they probably should and it’s a one of those situations where the mentality has got to be ‘let’s make sure we don’t concede another one’ – but at the minute we seem to concede one (goal) then concede another and today we soon found ourselves 3-0 down. As a managerial team, we can break every goal down into poor goals – but the ones we are conceding are really poor. The second (goal) comes after we have been on the attack and the home goalkeeper has gathered the ball and thrown it out to the left back. We’ve come to get pressure on the ball and we’ve stopped before we even get to the man and allowed him to play it unattended – which means we’ve now got a player out of position. Again it’s a really, really poor goal from our point of view but then all three were to be honest – and we need to smarten up and smarten up fast.”

Skinner added: “We’d had two very, very good training sessions during the week. On Thursday night both in and out of possession I saw some of the best I’ve seen from this group since we brought them together and it’s about transferring it from training pitch to match pitch. I reference boxing sometimes and you can have what you call gym fighters. You can have a boxer who in sparring looks brilliant because he knows his opponent isn’t actually going to hit him or hit him properly and I think we’re a little bit like that – in training we look really, really sharp and really, really good then when we get out onto the pitch we’re apprehensive. Again it’s like the boxer who goes into the ring to fight an opponent he doesn’t know and becomes a bit apprehensive and is worried a little bit – and we look a little bit like that – and until we start making it more difficult for other teams when we are out of possession, we’ll continue to lose games of football.”

He continued: “Dunston have come out second half and albeit they were 3-0 up so they didn’t really have to push or exert too much. But it’s frustrating for us because we started really sloppy for a couple of minutes then we got on the ball and started passing the ball again. It becomes a confidence thing where the lads think ‘it’s 3-0 and chances are that the game has gone’ – so let’s get on and play. There was a water break which came at an idea time because I was about to make a substitution and we managed to change one or two things and again from the restart, we dominated the ball. We had a couple of shots that flashed wide and then we’ve picked up a red card which is again frustration – and means that the game is over.”

He went on: “Again to our credit, we had to sit in when we needed to and see the game out and when we got the ball, we kept it quite well with ten men. However, as I said only recently ‘goals win games’ and until we start scoring – because that’s three games in a row now where we haven’t scored – and make it more difficult for the opposition to put the ball in our net, it’ll be a long hard season. The players know that and I have told them in no uncertain terms what we need to be improve on and the sooner they realise that the better. They are a group of players that have been brought together after a lot of changes in the summer and there’s still one or two trying to find their feet whilst we’ve just brought another couple (of players) in recently and we’ve also had a number of injuries. Craig Spooner and Dan Maguire were on the bench today because they missed our game at Bridlington last Saturday through injury whilst Oli Thompson was ineligible today. His parent club Gateshead didn’t him cup tied which is understandable because they got to the final of the Trophy last season.”


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.”


By Brian Bennett | Photo: Ian Brodie

Oli Thompson says he is delighted to link up with Ashington on a loan deal from Gateshead.

The Sunderland-born youngster, who only turned 18 last month, made his debut for the Colliers in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Stocksbridge Park Steels at Bracken Moor – and claimed an assist for the opening goal headed home by Charlie Exley – before making his first appearance at Woodhorn Lane in Monday’s 2-0 defeat by Consett.

“I’m delighted to join Ashington,” said Thompson, “I need minutes in the tank and Gateshead sorted the loan out for me. I think I can develop here (at Ashington) and become a better player and hopefully when I return to Gateshead, I’ll have a lot to thank Ashington for.”

Looking back at his first appearance in a black and white shirt, he said: “Overall I was happy but I did feel a bit leggy in the second half because that was my first 90 minutes in about three or four months. I thought we deserved to win in the end. For the first 20-25 minutes we were bopping the ball about quite well and they (Stocksbridge) couldn’t quite get near us but the penalty which they equalised from was a turning point and the game switched momentum in their favour. However we got the winner in the second half so I was happy.”

Thompson was honest about the part he played in Exley’s goal: “I’m not going to lie,” he said, “It was a shot but it worked out well in the end, with Charlie (Exley) heading the ball in at the back post.”

Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner said: “Oli is somebody who I know very, very well. I had a year coaching him in the youth team (at Gateshead) and he was brilliant. The game everybody will remember is against Blyth Spartans. We were 3-1 down; Oli then scored a hat trick and we won 4-3. Through his own hard work, endeavour and willingness to listen and learn he managed to earn himself a professional contract at Gateshead and he’s been really bright and sharp for the first team in pre season. He’s a little bit unlucky to find himself out on loan to be honest because Gateshead do really think he has a big future but the plus side with that is my relationship with them and Oli.”

Thompson has signed on a season long loan with a recall option any time after 28 days and Skinner added: “I jumped at the opportunity to take Oli because I think he will offer us that little bit of something different and people who watched him play at Stocksbridge will have seen that he’s happy to take the ball under pressure; he’s low centre gravity and can twist and turn one way and the other. He’ll run at people and cause them problems; his range of passing is good and he’ll chip in with a few goals so I think he’ll be a really positive player for us and I’m just delighted that we have got him.” He went on: “In the opening 15 minutes against Stocksbridge Oli was brilliant. He played the pass for one of Wilson Kneeshaw’s one on ones; he put the ball in for Charlie Exley to score; he had an effort where he picked the ball up on the edge of our own box and ran the full length of the pitch and stung the ‘keeper’s hands who had to turn it over for a corner. We probably and possibly could have withdrawn him but you just know if you get him on the ball, he can create something in an instant. I’m just looking forward to working with him and hopefully helping him to develop further.”