Category: First Team


By Brian Bennett | Photo: Ian Brodie

Ashington FC manage Ian Skinner – bitterly disappointed after his side 3-2 defeat at the hands of Whickham on Tuesday night – admitted that ‘it’s advantage Newton Aycliffe’ for promotion come the end of the season.

After leading at the interval through Karl Ross, the Colliers went 2-1 behind at Whickham to goals from Tom Romano and Scott Robson. Scott Heslop levelled but Romano got his second in stoppage time which sent the Wansbeck outfit to their seventh league defeat of the campaign.

“Tonight was a big game,” he said, “It was a game in hand – a game which had we won would have seen us go level with Newton Aycliffe at the top of the league. We are now three points behind them having played the same number of games so it’s advantage Newton Aycliffe. All we can do now is to look towards Saturday’s home match against Pickering Town, hopefully pick up three points and try to win every game between now and the end of the season. Wherever it puts us, we’ll have to accept because I’m a little bit old fashioned and over a 38 game season, the table generally isn’t wrong.”

As he looked back at the first half at the First Mortgage Glebe Stadium, Skinner commented: “I thought we started the game really, really well. We were bright and played with tempo; created a number of opportunities and probably scored the scrappiest of goals. A couple of chances fell to various people then the ball came out to Karl Ross and it wasn’t the cleanest of strikes but it’s gone in the bottom corner. They all count and to be honest I thought we deserved to be at least 1-0 up at half time.”

Whickham drew level within two minutes of the resumption with a controversial goal with Ashington claiming the ball had gone out of play for a goal kick. Skinner said: “We talked in the dressing room about doing the right things in the second half – but the start was disastrous. Obviously from where I was I couldn’t see if the ball is out (for a goal kick) but there’s a thing in football whereby if you are unsure you can usually tell by player’s reactions. Darren Lough left the ball and ran away from it – if the ball is still on the pitch why would he (Lough) leave it (the ball) and move away from it for there centre forward who started dribbling with it before putting it into the net? Everybody was looking as if to say ‘what’s gone on’ – but the goal was given.”

He added: “I’m proud of our defensive record this season in terms of before tonight’s game we had only conceded 30 goals in 32 league games – less than a goal a game – but anybody who saw our defending for all three goals tonight would be flabbergasted because they are very, very poor goals. There were individual errors within those goals but as a team second half defensively, we were all over the shop. We allowed Whickham to play more direct; we allowed them to play forward and run forward which they do well especially with the slope and we turned the game into a bit of a battle and a scrap and the squad I have assembled, without being disrespectful, aren’t battlers and scrappers – they’re footballers. Consequently it frustrates me when they decide to get into scraps and battles because that doesn’t suit us and that’s probably the reason why we found ourselves 2-1 down. We managed to equalise and when we did that we were the brighter team because we started to pass the ball again and I don’t know how many times in the second half I must have shouted to the players ‘keep passing it’. Then to concede another really poor goal and lose the game is very disappointing.”

For Saturday’s clash against Pickering Town at Woodhorn Lane (3pm), Skinner is hoping Dan Maguire and Andrew Cartwright – who both missed the Whickham game through injury – will be available but defender Darren Lough is ruled out through suspension.


By Brian Bennett | Photo: Ian Brodie

Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner thought his sides 1-1 draw with Newton Aycliffe on Saturday was a fair result – but the boss believed a controversial incident just short of the half way mark during the second half was pivotal.

After skipper Ben Harmison had blasted home his 19th goal of the campaign to put the Colliers ahead on the stroke of the interval, defender Darren Lough was penalised for handball and red carded by referee Lewis Hardy with Liam Jarvie confidently scoring from the resulting penalty for the equaliser.

“The game obviously swung on a massive decision in terms of a handball and a red card,” said the boss afterwards, “I need to see the footage back so I can only speak from how far away I was at the time but my initial reaction is that it’s harsh – the ball hasn’t travelled very far – it hasn’t travelled across a lot of distance and the way I looked at it, the ball was kicked at Darren (Lough).”

Before kick off the County Durham outfit held a three points lead at the top of the league from the second placed Colliers who had a game in hand and reflecting on the clash, Skinner added: “If I’m honest, a draw is probably the result neither team wanted – but I thought it was fair and in the final analysis, I wasn’t too disappointed. Newton Aycliffe started the brighter than we did then we grew into the game a little bit and we had a period of about 20 minutes in the middle of the first half where we were the better side. We had a spell where we had four consecutive corners and fashioned one or two chances. Then they (Newton Aycliffe) came back into it a little bit towards the end of the half before we managed to score and go in 1-0 up at the break.”
He continued: “Second half we had a fantastic little chance within a minute after a great move. We got in but the ball just didn’t quite sit right for us and then credit to Aycliffe who came and attacked us and it was nip and tuck. After losing Darren Lough, we really became a little bit ragged. We weren’t quite sure of our shape; and they (Aycliffe) moved us around and also moved the ball well. However a cynical foul on Robbie Dale as he’s stepping through saw a second yellow for their lad (Ethan Wood) and then its 10 v 10. After that, the game probably ebbed and flowed a bit without either team really creating too many chances. I can remember a fantastic header at the back post by Jordan Summerly where the ball was stood up and their player is running onto it and Jordan has managed to back head it away. At the other end, Dean Briggs has cut in from the left and bent one (a shot) just wide whilst Scott Heslop has had a header which has gone just over. We’ve scored from open play and limited Aycliffe who have only scored from a penalty and I said it when we played them at their place – and I said it again before the game – nothing would be won or lost today. It’s a case of as you were only with a game less because we both got a point and our goal differences stay the same.”

He went on: “It was a good game between two good sides. Obviously it was first versus second which attracted a fantastic crowd of 941 on Non League day and they have seen a good game of football with two teams giving it their all.”

Skinner believes his side have got a ‘tougher’ run in to the end of the campaign as opposed to Aycliffe: “I certainly think we’ve got the tougher run in of the two teams,” he said, “If you look at it, we’ve still got to play Whitley Bay and Bishop Auckland who are wanting to be in amongst those top two places and literally everybody we’ve got left to face have something to play for – including Pickering Town and Thornaby who are scrapping for points to stay in the league.”

He continued: “We’ll see how people have come through today’s game and prepare for our away trip to face Whickham on Tuesday night (March 28) but Damen Mullen, Ryan McKinnon, Adam Johnson and Lewis Suddick will all come into contention.”


By Brian Bennett | Photo: Rachel McDonald

Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner lauded praise on Darren Lough after the defender turned in a sublime performance on his return to the side – and also scored his first goal of the season – in the 3-0 win over Redcar Athletic on Saturday.

Lough had been sidelined for the past six weeks after he broke two toes in the away match at Pickering Town at the start of February.

But on Saturday Lough came back into the starting eleven: “I trained on Tuesday and Thursday and with Ryan McKinnon not available, I was told that I may be needed,” he said, “I had no reaction from the sessions and it was a sink or swim situation. I gave it a go and everything turned out okay with my foot – the only problem I had was that I got a bit of a dead leg in the first half but I managed to get through it and played for 80 minutes so I was happy.”

The 33 year old lynchpin was equally pleased to open his goalscoring account: “Ben (Harmison) flicked the ball on from Andrew Cartwright’s corner and I was caught in two minds so I just went to head it and I was delighted when it hit the net,” he said, “At the end of the day, we got the win and a clean sheet which is just what we needed going into Saturday’s clash against Newton Aycliffe.”

Lough – one of a plethora of signings by manager Ian Skinner in the close season – is delighted he put pen to paper for his hometown club: “I’m enjoying it,” he said, “The lads are spot on – and we play some nice football at times. We can change it up and we’ve got some great players that know exactly what they are doing on a football pitch.”

Boss Skinner said: “Darren would have played the last five games for us with a couple of broken toes if he could – but we just needed to manage him. He’s probably done two and a half to three training sessions and for today’s trip to Redcar, we knew Ryan McKinnon was unavailable so we had earmarked this as a game where we potentially would like to get him back on the pitch. Darren being Darren, after training on Thursday when I said to him ‘let me know what you are like’ – his response was ‘if you need me I’m ready and I’ll play.’ He may not thank me for saying this but he’s what I class as an ‘old school’ player at this level in terms of he never wants to come off the pitch and wants to win every game in training. What you see is what you get with him and he gives you everything he’s got – and he even chipped in with a goal today!”

He continued: “Darren also played with a bit of a ‘dead leg’ after he took a whack in the first half. We had to keep him moving at half time so when we got that second goal, with two strikers on the bench (Lee Mason and Scott Heslop), it was an opportunity to freshen the front up a little bit. We managed to get Dan Maguire off to protect him a little bit and asked Ben Harmison to drop into centre back which we know he can do. We put the two fresh forwards on to try and chase down a few more goals and I was pleased for Lee (Mason) who took his goal very, very well. He has had limited game time of late but we know if he gets the ball in the box that he is a very good finisher.”


By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner was delighted on Saturday night after his side had picked up another three points following a 3-0 victory over Redcar Athletic at Green Lane.

However the boss – who is always looking for the complete performance – expressed a tinge of disappointment after his side did not go on to make the score line even more emphatic!

Skinner said: “Our second goal – scored by Darren Lough – gave us breathing space and after that we really put our foot on the gas. We ended up scoring three but I was a little bit disappointed that we didn’t go on to make it five or six. However we’ll take a 3-0 win at a tough place like Redcar because they are a good side and not many teams will come here and win.”

Dan Maguire fired Ashington into an early lead with Darren Lough and substitute Lee Mason adding the others: “I just thought from the first whistle that we looked like we were going to be at it,” he added, “We started really brightly and within the first minute we got Jordan Summerly in wide left and he put a great ball across the face of the goal. We then scored a fantastic first goal with Dan Maguire doing what he does best, twisting and turning and cutting inside before he’s bent the ball into the far corner. For the first 20-25 minutes I thought we were in complete control then we lost our way a little bit. Sometimes in games you have too much of the ball in good areas and instead of players continuing to do what’s working, they decide that they will try to over complicate things and for 15 minutes it became a bit of a game whereby we didn’t play as well as we had started.”

He continued: “To be fair, we didn’t have a lot to say to the lads in the dressing room and second half we pretty much dominated the game – apart from one pivotal moment when our ‘keeper Karl Dryden has made a double save. Obviously they (Redcar Athletic) have had a player red carded which is always difficult – but it’s equally as difficult to play against ten men as sometimes the dismissal can galvanise a team. However, after the sending off, I thought for about five minutes that we were very good in what we did. We kept the ball for long periods and took the sting out of the game and made Redcar have to move from side to side and made them have to chase it (the ball) and basically what you are psychologically doing is telling the opposition that it’s going to be a long second half!”

He went on: “Now we’ll dust ourselves down, train this week and prepare properly for our home game against Newton Aycliffe on Saturday (March 25). Fingers crossed we should be looking at having a full compliment of players including Ryan McKinnon and Adam Johnson who were both unavailable at Redcar.”

Kick off on Saturday is 3pm.


By Brian Bennett | Photo: Ian Brodie

Ashington FC skipper Ben Harmison scored his 18th goal of the season which gave his side a last-gasp win over Guisborough Town at Woodhorn Lane on Saturday.

And afterwards, Harmison – who netted with a header – was full of praise for his team mates: “We’ve got great character in the group,” he said, “We pushed and pushed and didn’t give up or think about taking a draw – and eventually we got the goal and the three points which we deserved.”

Harmison thought his side played some good football – but he was also left frustrated: “I was disappointed with our quality in the final third and the lads will be brutally honest and admit that it was very poor,” he said, “We just rushed things and lacked composure but in the last ten minutes we kept going and started putting some good balls into the box. We put pressure on and won the penalty and after stepping up to take it, Damo (Damen Mullen) was unlucky that the ‘keeper has parried it.”

However Ashington recycled the ball which led to Harmison’s winner: “Craig Spooner has put a great ball over to the far post because he had his back to us,” he said, “I’d like to think I’m quite hard to handle when I’ve got a run on the defenders – so I was pleased. Guisborough are a good team and they will beat a lot of teams but I thought we played some good football and moved the ball around. It was just in the final third where we were poor – and if we had been a bit better we could have scored a few more. It wasn’t until Paul Robinson came on and changed the game as he gave us width down the left hand side. Paul and Jordan Summerly were brilliant – they love linking up together – and they caused Guisborough loads of problems with two versus ones.”

He concluded: “We’ve got some tough fixtures coming up and we’ll continue to tick them off one by one.”


By Brian Bennett | Photo: Ian Brodie

Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner admitted that his side had left it late before they claimed their 21st league win of the season with a 1-0 verdict over Guisborough Town at Woodhorn Lane on Saturday.

The Colliers consolidated their second from top placing in the first division of the Ebac Northern League thanks to a brilliant header by skipper Ben Harmison in the final minute of the 90 and a delighted Skinner said afterwards: “We left it late at home again but we got the three points and that’s all I asked for before the game. We now have eight games remaining and know what we have got to do to achieve what we want to achieve.”

Skinner added that his side took time to get into the contest against a resolute Guisborough side “I didn’t think we started the game particularly well,” he said, “Guisborough were brighter than us – and they had two really big chances. Michael McGee was clean through and our ‘keeper Karl Dryden has made a good save then Jack Blackford has hit the crossbar. It took us a while to get going but from the 18-20 minutes mark we came into our own, moved the ball a bit better and the theme of the game was that we got into some great wide areas but our final ball was below par. We scored a very good goal following a deep cross when Dan Maguire heads it back across and it comes off a Guisborough hand and Ben Harmison fires it into the roof of the net then for some reason, the referee has ruled that Maguire has handled it and disallowed the goal. However, although we came in level at the interval, we finished the half strongly.”
Skinner was happier with his side after the break: “Second half I thought we dominated large parts of the game,” he said, “Guisborough have sat really, really deep and tried to see if they could play a bit on the counter attack if I’m honest despite offering very little – and I can’t think of a save Karl (Dryden) had to make. We did really well in terms of managing possession. I thought we moved the ball and got into some key wide areas but that final ball let us down and as the clock ticks down you think ‘lady luck is not quite shining on us at the moment.’ Then we get a penalty and miss it and the amount of spot kicks we have spurned this season (five) is frightening to be fair. However there was a long, long delay from it (the penalty) being given to it actually being taken and that’s difficult to deal with physiologically. To our credit, we’ve kept the ball alive after the save by the goalkeeper and managed to hang a decent ball up to the back post – and If you want anybody to meet a ball hanging in the air from about three yards out at the back post, it’s Ben Harmison!”

Ashington now prepare for a trip to face Tow Law on Tuesday night (March 14) with the game potentially coming too soon for Scott Heslop and Darren Lough who are on their way back from injury.


By Brian Bennett | Photo: Ian Brodie

Ashington FC’s use of a Veo camera came up trumps last week when a panel reviewed the red card issued to Ben Harmison and overturned the decision.

The Colliers skipper was sent off after only quarter of an hour of his sides top of the table clash against Ebac Northern League first division leaders Newton Aycliffe at Moore Lane – a decision which left supporters flabbergasted and manager Ian Skinner ‘in shock.’

Woodhorn Lane secretary Gav Perry said: “On the Sunday following the match against Newton Aycliffe, we reviewed the footage and felt that the referee had made a clear and obvious error in sending Ben off. That evening we submitted the initial intention to appeal the decision to the Northumberland Football Association (NFA) and then forwarded the video evidence on the Monday. A hearing was set for Wednesday evening and at 6pm I received the outcome whereby the appeal was successful and the red card had been expunged from Ben’s record.”

Skinner was naturally delighted – but unhappy that video footage is the only way to contest a dismissal: “Ben Harmison should never ever have missed a game of football because of the red card and it was overturned – rightly so – and he was available to play for us on Saturday (against Guisborough Town). As a club we have invested thousands of pounds in equipment and subscriptions for our benefit to review performances, and we shouldn’t need to use this to be able to overturn a poor decision. If we hadn’t had a Veo camera last week, Ben would have been suspended.”

He continued: “My view on the incident hasn’t changed. I said on the day that it wasn’t a red card and the reason why I didn’t comment or make any noise was because I was in shock that the referee has even considered producing the red card. We are not a club that would appeal just for the sake of it but having reviewed the video footage, it only confirmed what I thought I saw in live play – that Ben has genuinely cleared the ball. I’m still disappointed that it was a decision made in what was quite an important fixture – first v second – and we‘ve ended up playing the best part of 30 minutes longer than they have (Aycliffe) with ten men and that probably showed in the end when they scored two goals in the last ten minutes.”

He went on: “I would like to thank the panel who took the time to look at it – and I thank our secretary Gav Perry for taking the time to clip the footage and make sure the case was put together and I’m just pleased that we have still got Ben for the remainder (of the season) and will not lose him for any games.”

Harmison said: “When I saw the red card go up, I was frustrated but you cannot say anything otherwise you risk getting yourself into more trouble so you’ve just got to accept it. I was shocked (by the red card) as no one was asking for it but I knew I would get off if there was footage available and the camera showed it wasn’t a red card.

I’m happy the club appealed – I would like to thank the panel – and I’m over the moon.”


Ashington AFC are pleased to offer a ticket deal for the final four home games of the 2022/23 season.

Backed by an amazing 488 average league crowd so far and 3,408 supporters through the door across five Cup fixtures, our supporters are leading the way in the Northern League this season.

With four big home fixtures to come we would appreciate all the support we can get as the lads look to keep in the promotion hunt. The first of those games is upcoming on Saturday against Guisborough Town (3pm Kick Off).

Ticket prices are £21 for Adults, £9.00 for Senior Citizens / Students and £3.00 for Under 16. That offers a saving of a full game across all categories.

You can buy your four game tickets online at the following link:

A poster for the final four games can also be downloaded here if you are able to print and display anywhere.


By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner could not hide his disappointment on Saturday night after his side had gone down by a 4-1 score line against Newton Aycliffe – the leaders of the Ebac Northern League’s first division.

Victory for Skinner’s outfit would have seen them leapfrog over their County Durham opponents on goal difference – but the Newtonians came out on top to go six points clear although the Colliers have two games in hand.

Ashington were forced to make a reshuffle before kick off when Andrew Cartwright pulled out through injury. Craig Spooner reverted to full back and Dean Briggs slotted into the midfield.

Both sides finished the first half with ten men. Ashington skipper Ben Harmison saw red after quarter of an hour and Oscar Eckley-Aldsworth followed shortly before the break.

Skinner said afterwards: “Obviously my initial reaction is one of disappointment. I was disappointed with all four goals which we conceded but if we look at it logically, what I did say before the game regardless of the result was that nothing would be won today and all we have lost is three points. People will be looking at it (the result) and thinking in terms of the final league table – but I can stand here now and say that if we win every game between now and the end of the season, nobody can finish above us – so it’s still all to play for.”

Reflecting on the match from kick-off, Skinner said: “I thought we started the game quite well and moved the ball quite well but then we have conceded a really poor goal where they (Aycliffe) worked a little three versus two in the wide area and the cross came in too early and it’s a free header at the back post so that was really, really disappointing. The second goal is totally avoidable after we gave the ball away which allows them to break and he (Liam Adamson) finishes it. We are 2-0 down and have ten men and you think ‘it’s going to take a big effort’ – but we’ve done it before this season ironically against Aycliffe in the FA Cup where we came back to win it 3-2 – albeit when we had 11 players on the park. Then we score after a good little quick movement where Dan Maguire has taken on his shot early to make it 2-1. We dominated for the final few minutes and didn’t want the half to end because we were right on top and had another couple of half chances to come in level.”

He continued: “Then half time becomes a little bit chaotic. Aycliffe have just gone down to ten men and haven’t had time to really re-adjust and from our point of view, we’re not sure how they are going to set up – so all we could do was to focus on ourselves. We talked about how we could cause them some problems – and being really brave going man for man almost out of possession and we would see how the game developed. We started really brightly and certainly dominated the ball although they had a couple of minutes early on where they tried to slow things down. We had lots of the ball and probed but never really threatened the goal enough and I think the big moment was where Dan Maguire has wriggled free and his cross-cum-shot has rolled along the line and hit Dean Briggs’s heel – and I don’t know how the ball hasn’t gone in. If we had scored then to level at 2-2, I think we would have go on to win it.”

He went on: “As the game draws on you are looking and thinking ‘we are going to have to start taking one or two risks to see if we can nick a point.’ Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Would I change anything? I probably wouldn’t make four subs all in one go like I did. If you think we’ve only got ten players on the pitch, I’ve changed 40% of the team so that was a big change to expect the subs to get straight up to game speed and be able to play and I probably should have split it into two twos. That said, after we made the changes, we did lose our way a little bit. I don’t know whether it was how we were trying to play but I was also disappointed with one or two players in how we ended the game. Towards the end – bearing in mind we were only a goal away from being in the game – we were certainly very poor in the two goals which we conceded late on. People might look at it and think it was because we were pushing forward to try and get an equaliser but that doesn’t wash with me – those two goals were massively avoidable and with the second half being ten versus ten, Aycliffe have beat us 2-0 and that’s not acceptable.”

On Saturday (March 11), Ashington are at home to Guisborough Town (3pm). Skinner will await a fitness report from Andrew Cartwright whilst Darren Lough and Scott Heslop are still likely to be sidelined.


By Brian Bennett | Photo: Ian Brodie

Ashington FC midfielder Dean Briggs came off the bench to score the vital goal which gave the Colliers a 1-0 victory over a resolute Carlisle City side at Woodhorn Lane on Tuesday night.

And afterwards, the 26 year old said: “It’s about time. The last time I scored was at the end of August so I was buzzing to get the winner tonight to be fair. Paul Robinson has made the run and the ball has dropped to me and it was probably a good thing that I didn’t have any time to think about it – I just tried to hit the target and luckily it went in the bottom corner.”

Newcastle-born Briggs continued: “It’s been a pretty frustrating season for me with injuries and not getting a good run of games so I’d like to get a few more goals before the end of the season. We have a tough game on Saturday (at Newton Aycliffe) and it was important to get the win tonight.”