07 Oct 2021 in First Team
SKINNER: “IT WAS A BIG ASK – AND THE LADS DESERVE FULL CREDIT”
By Brian Bennett
Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner puffed his cheeks out after watching his side book their place in the next round of the Techflow Marine Northumberland Senior Cup following a 3-2 win over Blyth Town at rain-drenched and windswept dwmedia Stadium on Tuesday night.
The Colliers had to do it the hard way too as by the hour mark, they trailed to a double from Town striker Adam Johnston. However in the last 15 minutes, goals from Karl Ross, Luke Salmon and Ryan McGorrigan – the latter added on time – saw Skinner’s outfit go through.
Soaked through to the skin, the Woodhorn Lane boss said: “Naturally I was delighted because as I said in the build up to the match, cup football is all about the result. However, I’m a purist and a perfectionist – I want the performance and the result. With quarter of an hour to go we were 2-0 down and it’s a big ask to come back from that on a night when there is treacherous conditions and I know they are the same for both teams. Sometimes in football you get this little feeling that it just might not be your night – like when the ball is flashing across the opposition’s goal – and I thought it was going to be the case for us. But you’ve got to keep knocking on the door and see if we can find a way through – and we did.”
He continued: “First half I didn’t think we moved the ball quickly enough. We crossed the ball from deep areas instead of trying to get to the bye-line. Blyth obviously came with a game plan to defend with a low block and defend deep and allow us to have the ball and almost invite us to break them down and we struggled a little bit. We didn’t look to commit people and when a team sits in with a low block you’ve got to be positive on the ball, run at people and make the opposition come towards you then play beyond that first line - and we didn’t quite do that. I was right behind the first goal for Blyth Town. It was a great strike in the wind by Adam Johnson and of those where no ‘keeper would save it – but I thought it was offside. At half time we didn’t say a lot in the dressing room because the players knew what they had to do and the conditions - although still difficult - were slightly in our favour with the hill and the wind which was blowing diagonally into the bottom of the hill.”
He went on: “We started brightly and the visiting ‘keeper Callum Corkhill has made some good saves whilst Blyth have also defended admirably and have put their bodies on the line. Then we did what Ashington sides like to do – we made a mistake and got punished for it and not only is it 2-0 but it’s a big job for us now. However it was a challenge for us to see what we are made of - and we needed to pull one back quickly. Karl Ross did that - and when Luke Salmon equalised, I didn’t realise how late the goal was. Even for Ryan McGorrigan’s winner, I thought there were six minutes left so when I heard there was around one minute left, it made me feel a bit more comfortable.”
He added: “I demand a lot from the lads all of the time because they are a group of talented players and sometimes they just need that encouragement but tonight they deserve full credit in terms of finding a way to win the game after being 2-0 down with 15 minutes to go. There’s no better feeling in football than scoring a last minute winner in a cup tie which sees you go into the next round but I offer commiserations to Blyth Town because we ourselves have been on the end of that situation this season and it’s a depressing and lonely place to be when it goes against you but thankfully it has gone for us tonight. Blyth have had a couple of indifferent results recently but with the game plan they had, it takes a gigantic effort to defend for 90 minutes. Certainly when we were in the ascendancy and got one back, the nerves would start in their camp and the legs would start to feel tired – plus its wet and it’s cold – and after the equaliser, it’s really difficult for them to go on the front foot again if I’m honest. I’m delighted for us though, because I really feared at one point that we might have being going out of another cup competition.”
Ashington return to Ebac Northern League action on Saturday when they travel to face Seaham Red Star (October 9). Tom Bramley, Max Emmerson and Bobby Taylor are all ruled out whilst Ben Harmison and Brandon Slater back into contention.