Category: First Team

BRIGGS: “WE WANT TO GET AS HIGH UP THE LEAGUE AS WE CAN”

By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC midfielder Dean Briggs says that the target for the Woodhorn Lane side is to finish as high up the Ebac Northern League’s first division table as possible.

Wideopen-born Briggs returned to the fold last month and was included in the starting line up for Ashington’s Techflow Marine Northumberland Senior Cup quarter final tie against Newcastle United under 23’s which the Magpies won via a penalty shoot out after the game finished all square at 2-2 after 90 minutes.

And on Saturday, the 25 year old came off the bench to score his 16th league goal of the campaign in the Colliers 3-1 win over Penrith: “The goal was a simple tap in – but it was nice to add it to the tally,” he said afterwards, “It was a case of coming on and working hard and the more minutes I have will improve my fitness and help to get my levels back to where they were. I was happy to get back on board and now it’s a case of seeing how high up the table we can go.” Ashington crept up to sixth place in the division following Saturday’s win but Briggs reckons a promotion bid would be a tall order: “It is a possibility – but it would be a tough ask for us because there are some good sides in the league,” he added, “We would have to win most games and although I can’t see any reason why we can’t do that there are some strong teams in the league and they would have to drop some points.”

SKINNER: “THE LADS SUCCESSFULLY CARRIED OUT THE CHALLENGE”

By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner looked on as his outfit were forced to come from behind against a ten man Penrith side on Saturday before they ‘successfully carried out the challenge’ with a 3-1 win at The dwmedia Stadium.

Indeed the first footing Cumbrians – looking to climb away from the bottom of the Ebac Northern League – took the lead with a 13th minute penalty from Jamie Armstrong. The home side levelled on the hour mark through Jordan Lashley and after Matthew Moynan had received his marching orders for a second yellow card offence, the Colliers took all three points with goals in the final five minutes of normal time from Adam Johnson and Dean Briggs.

“The biggest thing for me was the challenge we set the players this week which was to make sure we returned after our break with a win – and we’ve done that,” he said, “There are still lots of things still to work on but lots to be pleased with – in particular the manner in which we attacked in the second half and scored three goals. We had two good training sessions in the week leading into today’s game and all we talked about was to make sure we got back into the swing of things and look to win as many games as we can between now and the end of the season so I was more than satisfied. Lots of people kept asking me if the three and a half weeks lay off was going to be good or a hindrance and I think in the first half it looked like it was a little bit of the latter. We probably dominated the ball although Penrith did look dangerous on the counter attack. We had a lot of possession and got into some good areas but made the wrong decisions; missed a couple of really good chances and conceded what looked like a penalty in my eyes, so I had no complaints. They scored to go 1-0 up and when you are the away team and are looking for some results like they are, we have given them (Penrith) something to battle and scrap for and to their credit they did that. The message at half time was to be patient. There were things which we acknowledged as being good whilst some things we needed to be better at but the positive was we were creating chances and we just needed to be a little bit more composed and take one of those chances. Usually if we get one (goal) then we tend to go on and get two, three or four.”

He continued: “Second half we like to come down the bank and I was pleased we stuck at it without being our free flowing selves. Again we dominated the ball and created some good chances but didn’t quite take them, whether the ‘keeper has made a save or it has been a block and the follow up has fallen to us and surely we’re going to put it away – only we didn’t! Then you start to think that Penrith are a little bit of our bogey team really over the last few seasons because they have drawn a couple of times and have also won here. However, we equalised with a good move and good goal. It was a training ground move which we had worked on, on Thursday to score at the back post and it’s nice when that happens. It was a great ball in from Paul Robinson and Jordan Lashley – who was quiet a little bit today – did really well to head it home. After that I thought we could only beat ourselves. Obviously they’ve had a man sent off which helps us and hinders them because they are already playing with quite a low block and looking to hold on really so it was pleasing to get the second goal which Adam (Johnson) took really well. After that Dean Briggs scored a third and we could have added a few more.”

Skinner was delighted with the fitness levels showed by his squad: “We’ve worked the lads quite hard in the trainings sessions and the fitness levels looked good,” he said, “Even right into stoppage time we had lads looking to make runs forward to try and create further chances. In the dressing room now there are tired bodies and we’ve asked them to recover properly over the next 48 hours and be ready for training on Tuesday because now our attention turns to two sessions and an away game at Sunderland RCA on Saturday.” He concluded: “I knew the pitch had been quite firm in places with the heavy frost but it had thawed out and the worrying aspect was the rain which made things more difficult. However, it was nice to be back; I was pleased we got the game played and delighted we picked up three points.”

SKINNER LOOKING FOR HIS SIDE TO FINISH THE SEASON STRONGLY

By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner admitted that it has been a festive period with a difference – and that he will ‘proceed with caution’ before the Colliers kick off 2022 with a clash against Penrith at The dwmedia Stadium on Saturday (January 8).

When the teams run out onto the pitch, it will be the first piece of action for both sides for at least three weeks. Ashington’s last game was in mid December – the quarter final of the Techflow Marine Northumberland Senior Cup when they lost out to Newcastle United under 23’s after a penalty shoot out whilst four days later Penrith went down 2-0 in their Ebac Northern League first division match at Sunderland RCA.

However, the period of inactivity over Christmas was allocated when the season’s fixtures were released by the ENL and is a ‘first’ for Skinner who said: “I’ve been involved in senior football for 12 years and this is the first occasion I can ever remember not having a competitive match over the festive period. Obviously with Christmas Day and New Year’s Day falling on a Saturday, it meant no match on those days and the only time I can recall going three weeks without a game is due to inclement weather.”

He continued: “It’s an unusual situation not only for management but players because they are unfamiliar with it and we’ll not really know what effect it will have had on them until we play Penrith. Only then can we see if rest and recovery has done the squad the world of good or if it has led to them losing match sharpness – so we’ll proceed with caution.”

He went on: “We have trained and have tried to keep intensity levels high. However, our schedule has been further impacted with the bank holidays, as we have lost our usual training slots and we have had to safeguard the pitch at Woodhorn Lane which has been saturated.”

Ashington begin 2022 in seventh place in the league table with 38 points and Skinner added: “Personally I have used the little break to have a look at statistics and in the second half of the campaign we still have to play the teams who are above us. We’ll be looking to be on the front foot and trying to win as many games as we can and see where it takes us. Certainly there were lots of things which pleased me in the first half and we’ll be looking to finish the season strongly.”

Dean Briggs made his return in the match against Newcastle United under 23’s and Skinner said: “I’m delighted to have Dean back in squad – although it’ll take him a little while to get back up to speed. The break has naturally prolonged the period where he has been inactive so it will take time to get up to full speed. I’m disappointed that his career opportunity didn’t work out for him – but Dubai’s loss is Ashington’s gain.” Adam Johnson and Jordan Lashley should be available to return to the Ashington squad for Saturday’s 3pm kick-off against the Cumbrians but Max Emmerson and Tom Bramley remain sidelined.

CLUB’S SPECTACULAR SUPPORT

Since being promoted back to the top flight of The EBAC Northern League ahead of the 2004/05 season, there have been fifteen complete seasons (and two additional cut short due to COVID).

Across these completed seasons, we have seen our average crowd fluctuate between 155 and 242, with the fifteen season average sitting at 206.

Following the last two seasons which were cut short, we are currently attracting regular crowds in excess of 350 with the league match against Consett AFC reaching 735 in November. This has set us up to go into the second half of the season with a home (league) average of 438.


Note: 2019/20 was cut short after 17 matches and 2020/21 was cut short after 7 games which all had restricted crowds at the maximum permitted by National Government


Not only are we attracting regular high attendances in the League, but our recent Techflow Marine Northumberland Senior Cup Quarter Final against Newcastle United U23s attracted a ground record 1,357 fans in to watch us unfortunately exit the competition to the Premier League 2 outfit on penalties.

At present we have 300 season ticket holders (also a club record) and we would like to thank all of these ticket holders along with those buying tickets online and at the turnstile for each game for their support. The atmosphere at The dwmedia Stadium has amazing this term and we hope this can continue to grow and help take the club forward

As a town with approximately 28,000 inhabitants, it would be great to see just 2% of the Town attending regularly and taking our average well above the 500 mark.

Our next home game on Saturday 8th January is against Penrith AFC (3pm kick off) before North Shields (currently 3rd place in the league) visit The dwmedia Stadium on Tuesday 25th January for a 7:30pm kick off and we would love to see some new faces at the ground.

Tickets for our upcoming games can be purchased at: https://ashingtonafc.ktckts.com/brand/match-tickets

Finally, we would like to wish all of our players, staff, committee, volunteers, sponsors and fans a very Merry Christmas and good wishes for a prosperous 2022, whilst at the same time remembering those friends of the club who are no longer with us.

Merry Christmas and see you all in January!

ROSS & SPOONER: “SCORING AGAINST NEWCASTLE WAS AN UNBELIEVABLE FEELING”

Photo: Rachel McDonald

By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC’s midfielders Karl Ross and Craig Spooner have both said that being on the score sheet for their home town club against Newcastle United under 23’s in the quarter final of the Techflow Marine Northumberland Senior Cup at The dwmedia Stadium was ‘something special.’

The game finished all square at 2-2 after the Colliers had fought back brilliantly from a 2-0 deficit to draw level as Ross netted with a header on the 70 minutes mark which was followed five minutes later when Spooner calmly steered the ball inside the far post. They were memorable moments for the duo – even though the Magpies went on to win the ensuing penalty shoot out.

Reflecting on the comeback, Ross said: “The goal was all about the ball which was played over by Max Cowburn who had just come on as a substitute. For me it was making contact with my head and looping it over the ‘keeper. There was a bumper crowd in and when the ball hit the back of the net all I heard was a mighty roar. I’ve never experienced that sort of feeling before but the fans were quality all the way through because they spurred us on.”

The 23 year old continued: “First half I thought we gave Newcastle a bit too much respect but in the second 45 minutes, we were the better team. After Craig (Spooner) got the equaliser with quarter of an hour to go, we could have nicked it. We had two clear cut opportunities which we should have been on the end of.”

Spooner said: “It was an unbelievable feeling when I tucked the ball away. On the night, we broke the record attendance for this stadium and to score in front of so many people was great. I didn’t think we started too well and the team talk the manager (Ian Skinner) delivered basically made us go out and give Newcastle a game and show them that we are a good footballing side. We played much better in the second half and got the two goals. We then had a few chances; they had a few chances and if we had been a bit more clinical we could have won it.”

Playing in front of 1357 spectators didn’t faze Spooner, also aged 23, who added: “You kind of switch off and concentrate on the game but you can still hear them (the fans) all the time but as soon as Karl (Ross) headed our first goal then I got the equaliser, the noise was something else. It was great and the adrenaline was pumping. Obviously to go out on penalties was unfortunate – but full credit to the lads who stepped up to take them.”

With Ashington’s home game versus North Shields pushed back to Tuesday January 25, the Colliers next fixture will be at The dwmedia Stadium on Saturday January 8 against Penrith (3pm kick-off).

SKINNER: “I WOULD LIKE TO TAKE THIS CLUB OUT OF THIS LEAGUE”

By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner said at the weekend that he would like the Woodhorn Lane club to continue making progress – and in the ‘not too distant future’ he would like to take them up to the next step on the footballing pyramid.

The Colliers – now in the middle of a break in the fixture list –sit in seventh place in the Ebac Northern League’s first division on 38 points and asked whether he was happy with the season so far he said: “To be honest yes and no! At times we have been really, really good and I think the way we have tried to play has been pleasing. I think we have been worthy of the admission fee in most games this season and certainly if you want to see goals, Ashington games tend to be the ones to visit. I have been really pleased with some of our performances; with our philosophy and our game model; how we try and approach the game and with the amount of goals we have scored but slightly disappointed with the amount (of goals) we have conceded. However, when you try and play offensive the way we do at times then we do leave ourselves open a little bit although some of the goals we have conceded have certainly been avoidable and we have made a number of mistakes which have cost us in games. But all in all I think we are a few points off those top two promotion places so I am certainly pleased with that.”

He continued: “There were some matches where we were in commanding positions deep into games and ended up drawing or losing them. The majority of those happened earlier in the season and were frustrating so we could be slightly better off than where we are. On the whole we are still in touch – with the chance of trying to push into those top spots, so I’m quite pleased. I said from day one when I took the job that I’d only do it if we could progress as a team and I also said that people would need to be patient and give us time because it would take time to build from where we were. I think we‘ve not only got a great group of players but also a great group of characters. I enjoy knowing that I am going to get to work with them (the players) but also see them as people two to three times a week so credit to them because that goes a long way and we haven’t got any what you would perceive to be ‘big time charlies’ in the dressing room. Everybody seems to get along with each other so it’s a really good dressing room – possibly one of the best I’ve been involved with, so that helps and that probably shows a little bit on the pitch at times.”

He added: “Even as recently as the Newcastle United game where we were frustrated with ourselves that we weren’t quite playing to the levels we are capable of, we managed to up our game and get back into it so all in all what I would say is that we are progressing and want to keep progressing and I make no secret of the fact that I would like to take this club out of this league in the future – in the not too distant future at that. To do that we will have to keep working hard and will have to keep winning games of football. We’ll keep looking to improve – that’s what we try to do on a weekly basis – and come the end of the season usually the table doesn’t lie over the course of the season and you tend to finish where you deserve too.”

He concluded: “In the last few seasons, we’ve had to scrap right until the end of the campaign to ensure we retained our first division status so it is nice this year that we are looking up as opposed to down and long may that continue. We strive to catch those teams who are above us – and we’ll continue to do that.”

SHOTTON: “THE PEOPLE OF ASHINGTON GAVE US FANTASTIC SUPPORT”

Photo: Rachel McDonald

By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC chairman Brian Shotton was still beaming from ear to ear days after his Ebac Northern League outfit had hosted Newcastle United under 23’s at The dwmedia Stadium last week.

The event saw the Woodhorn Lane based side set a new attendance record for the ground as a superb turn out of 1,357 smashed through the previous best of 1,229.

The icing on the cake would have been if the Colliers had progressed into the semi finals of the Techflow Marine Northumberland Senior Cup – and they went close. After being 2-0 down by the hour mark, two goals in five minutes from Karl Ross and Craig Spooner pegged the young Magpies back to 2-2 before the under 23’s went through via a penalty shoot out.

The chairman – one of a number who worked a 17 hours shift on the day to ensure that everything ran as smoothly as possible – could not pour enough praise onto the people of the town as well as Newcastle United who donated their share of the gate receipts back to the Wansbeck club: “As time went on, online ticket sales were building and by close of play on the day, just short of 1,000 had been sold,” he said, “We thought we would get around another 300-400 on top of that so we weren’t far away from hitting the figure that I had thought.”

He continued: “On behalf of the club, I’d like to say a massive thank you to the people of Ashington for their fantastic support. I know it was a spectacle of a game – but I think it showed more than anything how much potential our club has got if we keep moving it in the right direction. It would have been lovely to have won the tie but the biggest thing for me was that people came and enjoyed the evening and I think everyone went home quite happy.”

He went on: “Behind the scenes, there was a lot of organising to do but I was pleased with the way things went. Overall it was a well arranged evening and everyone played there part both on and off the field.” Mr Shotton was also bursting with delight after the magnificent gesture by the St James’s Park outfit to hand back their share of the receipts: “We knew before the game that that was going be the case which is credit to them. It was a massive tick in the box for Newcastle United as they are giving back to the community and they also supported us with the organising of stewards and security.”

SKINNER: “WE’LL HAVE SOME FESTIVE FUN INSTEAD”

By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC’s exit – following the penalty shoot out against Newcastle United under 23’s on Tuesday night in the quarter final of the Techflow Marine Northumberland Senior Cup at Woodhorn Lane – signalled the start of a double period of disappointment for manager Ian Skinner and his squad.

After reflecting on the outcome of the Newcastle clash, Skinner turned his attentions towards a gap in the fixture list where his side are without a game for three weeks – and suggested that training will be a mixture of intense work outs interspersed with a dose of festive fun!

“It will be very tough having no game to look forward too for a while,” he said, “We’ll still continue to train – but human nature tells you that at the back of their minds, the lads will relax because we haven’t got a game coming up. Obviously the reasons for not having a match are beyond our control and it would have been great if we could have had something rearranged – but that hasn’t been the case. So instead, we’ll try and make training intense and have some competitive element to it with small sided games and probably have a little bit of a festive fives just for a bit of fun but also to keep the levels high. We’ll try and make sure we stay in the best shape and condition we possibly can because when we return to action, we face a really big game at home to North Shields. They (North Shields) have the added bonus of playing over the Christmas period so we’ll just have to make sure that when the time comes, we are ready to go.”

He continued: “To be honest, there are two ways you can look at our situation. On the one hand, it’ll be a challenge to keep them (the players) motivated and keep them to the levels where they should be whilst on the other, it might be nice – after a night on what was a bit of a sticky pitch against Newcastle United under 23’s – to let them rest up a little bit and for them to come back refreshed and recharged and let them spend a little bit of the festive period with their families.”

The game against North Shields – at The dwmedia Stadium – is on Tuesday January 4 where kick off is 7.30pm.

SKINNER: “I’M ALWAYS PROUD OF THIS GROUP OF PLAYERS”

Photo: Rachel McDonald

By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC boss Ian Skinner looked on from the dugout as his players proved him wrong – despite them going out of the Techflow Marine Northumberland Senior Cup after a penalty shoot out against Newcastle United under 23’s on Tuesday night in front of a record attendance of 1,357 at The dwmedia Stadium.

Skinner said afterwards: “The biggest frustration with them (the players) is that they let themselves down at times – and I thought that was going to be the case tonight with a below par showing. It’s probably easy to say it now because we came back and made a game of it but earlier the display had been bordering on being our worst performance of the season in potentially what was one of our biggest games of the campaign in front of a big crowd and against a professional outfit. However, I’m always proud of this group of players – and consequently I’m pleased that they did themselves justice. They showed that they are good players and showed they can get the ball down and pass it and we can create chances regardless of who we play.” Looking ahead, he continued: “Our aim is to move this club forward and play as high up the pyramid as we can. The club is growing day by day both on and off the pitch and we’ve just got to keep plugging away and see how far we can go.”

SKINNER: “I DON’T WANT DANNY TO DWELL ON PENALTY MISS”

Photo: Rachel McDonald

By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner says he fully expects Danny Anderson to put Tuesday night’s penalty miss firmly behind him – and move on.

After the game had finished 2-2 after 90 minutes, the midfielder stepped up to take his sides fourth spot kick in the shoot out against Newcastle United under 23’s – and saw it pushed away by young Magpies ‘keeper Will Brown.

Nathan Carlyon then converted for Newcastle which booked them a place in the semi finals of the Techflow Marine Northumberland Senior Cup: “Penalties become a lottery,” said Skinner afterwards, “I got the players on the pitch before we took them and said to them: ‘listen whatever happens from here, we can have no regrets.’ During the game itself, I had feared we were going to have regrets of what might have been – but in that spell in the second half, when we came from 2-0 down against a professional outfit to get back to 2-2 we’ve shown people what we are capable of and we need to take that forward now into the next few games.” He continued: “I asked who wanted to take one (a penalty) and the lads were brave enough to put there hands up with my only advice being to make sure they hit the target. Unfortunately somebody is going to miss one – and tonight it was young Danny Anderson. The penalty was on target but the ‘keeper has saved it and that happens. However, the pleasing thing is Danny is quite a laid back character and it’s probably not something which will faze him too much. Being a young lad, he’ll probably shrug it off a little bit – and I’m comfortable with that because I don’t want him to dwell on it.”