14 Nov 2019 in Post Match Interview
SKINNER: “WE’VE GOT TO STOP GIVING OURSELVES A MOUNTAIN TO CLIMB”
By Brian Bennett
Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner is concerned about a recurring theme which is running through his sides performances and outlined that they have got to stop giving themselves a mountain to climb.
The Colliers were 3-0 behind at the interval against Shildon at Woodhorn Lane on Saturday and conceded a fourth shortly after half time and it prompted the boss to say: “I think anyone who watched the first half will have seen that we weren’t really at the races today. We looked a little bit at sixes and sevens particularly defending our box. When you look at Shildon, they were very physical in terms of stature and size and at times, it looked a little bit like men against boys. They played to their strengths with two big strong physical centre forwards and got the ball forward early as well as having some intelligent runners from midfield who broke and must have won every first ball and probably picked up every second ball. If I’m being brutally honest, they looked like scoring every time they went forward. The disappointing aspect for me is that for two of the three goals we’ve had more than one opportunity to clear our lines but haven’t done that. For the third goal, Shildon have made five passes in our box before they scored and we couldn’t pinch or get a block on the ball which was really, really disappointing. We’ve got to stop giving ourselves mountains to climb. We went 3-0 down recently against Thornaby and then had a good display in the second half. Today it was also 3-0. We tried to change our shape a little bit and flood the centre of the pitch so that we could try and be around the ball for second balls and I think for a ten minutes spell, we looked a little bit better without really threatening.” He continued: “I don’t think we had a shot in the first half and the message at half time was that we had given ourselves a really tough challenge and that the next goal would be vitally important. We talked about playing into certain areas where we could cause them (Shildon) some problems. We had looked at a worst case scenario of losing 3-0 and although it’s a bit of a cliché we talked about not conceding again and if we get the next goal, see what happens – then we leak another poor goal early doors and we think ‘where do we go from here?’ At the interval, we talked about what changes we could make - then Thomas Kalthoeber takes poorly in the dressing room just before we are going to go back out. We also lose a centre back (Stephen Gibson through injury) but to be fair I thought Marc Lancaster did really well when he moved over into the middle of the defence and steadied the ship a little bit. That was two enforced changes in the back four when we are 4-0 down and I’m thinking ‘today is one of those days’. We brought Lee Scott on because we wanted him to hold the ball up and I thought he did that and then all of a sudden from somewhere, we’ve decided to chase a couple of lost causes and created a couple of half chances and had a bit of belief and for the last 20-25 minutes we were much, much better. We’ve scored a goal then got a free-kick which was a terrific delivery by Lewis Robson and a great header by Dylan Williamson who wanted to attack the ball; Lee (Scott) has had a couple of half chances; Dylan (Williamson) has had a couple of efforts at goal and the Shildon ‘keeper has been brought into the action. We won the second half which is a positive but the takeaway message is that we need to evaluate some of our principals. We might need to be a little bit more direct at times or play into certain areas at times to stay in the game for longer and as the game wears on and people tire and we open up, we’ll try to use some of our youthfulness and ability to pass the ball to create some chances. The first half was really, really disappointing but the last 20-25 minutes of the second (half) gave us something to work on – however we’ll not lose sight of the fact that we are a ‘work in progress.’