10 Feb 2019 in Post Match Interview
By Brian Bennett
Ashington FC’s interim manager Ian Skinner admitted that his outfit ‘weren’t good enough’ in the second half against Ryhope on Saturday where they slid to a third consecutive defeat. The Colliers had opportunities in the first period but went in at the break 2-0 down after conceding twice in the final ten minutes.
And Skinner pulled no punches afterwards when he said: “I’m going to sound like a broken record but against the wind and the slight slope in the first half, we had chances. After the break, we weren’t good enough in terms of what we have asked the players to do. We told them to press high; get the ball back early; get the ball into areas which is going to cause them problems; have efforts at goal; don’t let them play out and to make the ‘keeper kick the ball because it was windy and difficult - but they (the players) haven’t done any of those things. Before the game we had a plan against the wind to try and make things really compact and difficult for them (Ryhope) to play through us. We tried to force them to go around the outside into wide areas rather than through the middle and for us to play very much on the counter attack. Our shape early on was really good and we had a couple of really opportunities after good play but we haven’t taken them - although nobody misses on purpose. Then we conceded a poor goal and a fortuitous one at that. It was poor defensively but it looked like a cross to me and it’s gone into the top far corner. The game plan didn’t change. I didn’t get a great view of the penalty but that was on 44 minutes and we go in 2-0 down. On balance of play we shouldn’t have been - but I’m tired of hearing that.”
He continued: “People criticise me for being a football purist but even I know when there is 10-15 minutes left and as a side you are 2-0 down and have a 6’6” and a 6’4” centre forward on the pitch that you sacrifice those principles and say ‘right go big into those two’ - let’s get up the pitch and let’s squeeze. What we ended up with was a front two and a gap of about 60 yards between our midfield and defence. So when the ball went forward, we couldn’t get up and support them and when we lost the ball, Ryhope had 30-50 yards to run into. They (Ryhope) made some really good substitutions with good players in wide areas and looked to play down the sides of us – similar to what we had tried to do in the first half. However, the biggest disappointment is that we haven’t threatened the goal until we had a little flurry with three to four minutes to go. We have scuffed a couple, the ball has bobbled and we had a couple cleared off the line but overall, we lacked a bit of punch.” Skinner brought on teenagers Sanny Lingthep, Brandon Morrison and Harry Stansfield - three of the quartet he had signed from Darlington - and was happy with their contribution: “I was pleased the three got minutes and they did okay,” he said, “It was difficult for Sanny because I asked him to play two different positions in the 25 minutes he was on but he showed some lovely little touches, maybes tried a little bit too hard at times and probably needs to understand the league. Brandon (Morrison) worked hard up front; whilst with the position we found ourselves in, it was difficult for Harry (Stansfield) who came on late in the game.”
Towering striker Channon North also made a return to Woodhorn Lane during the week after signing from Jarrow and Skinner said: “Channon is 6’6” tall and scored 111 goals in 200 appearances for Hebburn. He holds the ball up well and once he gets going has a long stride and bit of pace about him and gives us a bit of a focal point up top. We managed to bring him back and he has a real admiration for the club. I don’t think he wanted to leave in the first place and I was delighted when he agreed to come back because it would have been a lot of pressure on a young man’s shoulders if we needed young Brandon (Morrison) at 17 year of age to be our focal point, week in week out. We have got no excuses now and I’ve told that to the players.”
Skinner added: “The players, management team and myself collectively take responsibility for today where we got some things right. Ultimately we have got to find a way to score a goal and win a game of football because at the minute, that’s three games, three defeats and no goals scored with nine goals against - and that’s a recipe for disaster. We need to dust ourselves down and again the message is for everyone to stick together.”
The Colliers host Durham University in a friendly on Tuesday (February 12 - 7.30pm kick-off) before they return to League action on Saturday (February 16) against Newcastle Benfield at Woodhorn Lane (3pm). Midfielders David Edwards and Karl Ross are both unavailable so Skinner will shuffle the pack.