01 Dec 2018 in Post Match Interview
By Brian Bennett
Ashington FC manager Steve Bowey admitted that his side must improve in the final third of the field - as well as being in urgent need of a change of luck - after seeing them go down to a slender 1-0 defeat against Ebac Northern League first division leaders Dunston UTS at Woodhorn Lane on Saturday.
Striker Mark Fitzpatrick was the match winner with a 26th minute penalty awarded for a handling offence and Bowey said afterwards: “It was a disappointing result today in hard conditions. Dunston are a good, well organised team and they made things difficult for us. I thought they got out of the blocks a bit sharper than us; were brighter with the ball; had a lot of midfield runners joining in late and caused us problems. For all that, we were still in the game at half time but needed to be better with the ball in the final third because I thought we just rushed things a little bit. We put the effort in and the work rate was there with everybody committed to the cause but we just need our luck to change. Dunston are on a great run and credit to them. They probably controlled the first half and created some good chances but 1-0 never wins a game of football until the referee blows the final whistle. We kept at it and kept going but looking at the game as a whole, we didn’t test the Dunston ‘keeper (Karl Dryden) enough. There were a couple of good deliveries but we were pushing men forward and Dunston were playing on the counter attack. The game could have been put to bed but you have got to take your chances and we nearly nicked an equaliser at the end through Zak Atkinson where he took a great touch and hit the ball well but it’s bounced off the crossbar. Had it gone in and the game ended 1-1, Dunston probably would have felt it as being a bit of an injustice. Our winless run continues but every game we play it’s pretty close and today was no different. We try to play the right way and if we had got a goal, it could have been another story.”
He continued: “Rome wasn’t built in a day or a week. It takes time. We want Ashington to be up there challenging. The last four games we have taken only two points but we have played against the top teams. The performances have been good and I’ve been well proud of the lads. Today I thought they dug in and kept in the game. We could have come away with a point - I would have been a lot happier - but we didn’t get the goal and Dunston could have killed the game off. However, football is about taking chances.”
Of the penalty award in the first period, Bowey said: “I don’t want to make comment until I’ve seen it back - but the lads have said that the ball bounced onto Gez Richardson’s hand.” Meanwhile Bowey had words of high praise for goalkeeper Conor Grant: “I have recently given him the captains armband and Conor showed again today that he is one of the best ‘keepers in the league,” he said, “I’ve got total confidence in the lad. To be fair he kept the score down to a minimum and did a fantastic job. He got a great hand to the penalty and almost saved it. We pushed and gave it a right go and in the last five minutes pushed Tony Stephenson up front and left only two at the back. I was happy with the performance and couldn’t fault the lads. We have got some young players in our squad and credit to them because they are the future of the club. The under 17’s outfit at the club trained with us on Thursday and that to me is the way forward - getting the juniors involved in the first team and making them feel welcome and letting be a part of what we are trying to achieve. We want to get the young lads in and make them better players and hopefully one day they will be first team players.”
The leadership of the league is shared between Dunston and Consett – with the Colliers facing an away trip against the latter on Saturday and Bowey said: “We have played the top teams and they have all been tight games and I think the best side we have faced have been Newton Aycliffe – who are just above us. We will go to Consett full of confidence and try to win the game. I’m not going to go there and sit back and try to scrape a 0-0 draw and I want the lads to continue to play their free-flowing brand of football on the 3G surface. We are not far away and it’ll be a test for us against one of the better teams in the league. The lads are disappointed not to have taken anything from today’s game and that’s credit to them. They gave 110 per cent and had a never-say-die attitude.”