07 Aug 2019 in Post Match Interview
SKINNER: “WE PLAYED WELL IN PATCHES”
By Brian Bennett
Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner – whilst delighted with his side after they had ground out a 2-1 victory over West Auckland at Woodhorn Lane on Tuesday evening – said there was still room for improvement.
Callum Johnston’s penalty with just over a quarter of an hour to go secured the three points for Skinner’s outfit in an action packed encounter which included a red card, a sin bin offence and a penalty awarded for both sides with one over turned by referee Mark Ryan after consulting with his assistant.
Dan Taggart’s second goal in as many games had given the Colliers a first half lead but West Auckland levelled two minutes into the second half through full back Thomas Price. Skinner said: “First and foremost, I’m delighted to get three points from our first home game of the season which attracted a good crowd - and a thank you goes to every one of them who turned out. I thought we played well in patches - not so well in other periods of the game - but we are a work in progress. We started okay and grew into the contest a little bit and we had a spell where we looked quite threatening on the break. We then lost our way which is a recurring theme and became too direct and played the ball into Dan Taggart too quickly and too early and consequently the space between Dan and the midfield was too big and we couldn’t get up and support. That meant that West Auckland could dominate the ball because as it went forward to Dan they picked up most second balls and counter attacked us.”
He continued: “After what I thought was a very harsh sending off, we went ahead with a well worked goal to be honest. Dan Taggart had had a chance just before it too and the ‘keeper (Mark Bell) has made a great save then within another couple of minutes, we’ve managed to score after a great little ball by Danny Anderson. Taggart has had a bit of a heavy touch which has taken him beyond the defender but he’s then managed to squeeze the ball back past the ‘keeper. At half time we talked about trying to make the pitch really big and stretch them (West Auckland) and make them do as much unnecessary running as we could and use the extra man to our advantage - but we got off to the worst possible start from the kick off. We gave the ball away, conceded within about three minutes and then they (West Auckland) had their tails up coming down the hill and looked dangerous. We then managed to get our foot on the ball and start passing the ball for a small spell. They were awarded a penalty but the lad was offside and fair play to the assistant referee for keeping his flag up. We got a penalty ourselves and from my vantage point I didn’t know what it was for but I spoke to our skipper Curtis Coppen afterwards who said at the corner, the old grappling - which we see week in week out - materialised whereby one of the West Auckland players had hold of him (Coppen) as he’s gone to head the ball. It’s caught the attention of the referee who awarded the spot kick then they had someone (Alex Francis) sin binned so we were up against nine men. It then became a little bit unrealistic if I’m honest with 11 versus nine. After all the euphoria of the penalty and us scoring and going 2-1 up and with all of their frustrations, the atmosphere changed to one of calm and we got stuck between a rock and a hard place. We couldn’t decide whether we really wanted push on and try and get a third goal - or should we just manage the ten minutes and keep the ball until Francis came back on with only three minutes left. We were stuck in-between. We kept the ball well but at times we forced the final pass when we could have been a little bit more patient. When Francis returned - and as you would expect - they (West Auckland) threw the kitchen sink at us. They had one or two near misses and flashes across goal whilst we dug deep and produced a couple of great defensive headers and clearances and held on for the win.”
He went on: “West are a very good team and will be there or thereabouts come the end of the campaign but I think it’s important for us – and we talked about it in the dressing room before the game – of making Woodhorn Lane a difficult place to come too and not allowing teams to win easy. I want us to build a decent season on good home form and we could not have made a better start than by taking three points from our first home game.”