29 Jun 2021 in First Team
SKINNER: “I’M QUITE HAPPY WITH OUR START”
By Brian Bennett
Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner was quite upbeat - but inwardly cautious - last week after the Ebac Northern League released the fixtures for the upcoming season.
The Colliers go to Penrith on the opening day (July 31) and follow that with a home clash against West Auckland on Tuesday August 3 at the dwmedia Stadium.
Over the years, Skinner has always given the same reaction - describing the start as being ‘tough’ – and although the boss again made use of the‘t’ word, he nevertheless had a smile on his face when he said: “I’m not too disappointed with the list (of fixtures) to be honest. It means we will be going to Penrith on a Saturday and historically the sun shines on the first day of the season. It’ll be nice to travel across to Cumbria because I believe we went to face them in midweek last term and also given the restrictions which have been in place due to Covid-19 and the inability to do much as a group, it’ll be even better if the sanctions are lifted by then. If that turns out to be the case, we’ll look to journey by coach and use it as a little bit of a team bonding exercise.”
He continued: “Penrith is always a tough place to visit and it’ll be a tough game too but they are usually decent games and we generally perform okay. I also like the fixture because personally I know the people involved who run Penrith and they always make a fuss of me and I like to reciprocate that when they come to Ashington. It’ll be nice to see some familiar faces and hopefully they will have all kept well during the pandemic.”
Turning his attentions to the West Auckland clash, Skinner said: “I seem to recall we played them two seasons ago at Woodhorn Lane in a midweek game,” he said, “It’ll be our first home game under lights and again we tend to do okay results wise against them (West Auckland) - but then we want to win as many home games as we can and make Woodhorn Lane a difficult place for opposing teams to come too.”
The 45 year old went on: “We are used to the surroundings (at the dwmedia Stadium) as we train at the ground regularly and I want us to be a hard team to beat on our own patch. If we can do that and win the vast majority of home games or get positive results and then pick up points here and there on the road then we should be alright.”
Ashington begin their group of warm up matches on Saturday (July 3) when they travel to face ENL second division outfit Birtley Town (3pm).