Ashington FC head coach Ian Skinner said at the weekend that the Woodhorn Lane outfit will be placing a big emphasis on their Brooks Mileson Memorial League Cup tie at home to Newcastle Benfield on Tuesday, January 17.
Skinner was quick to stress the importance of the tie.
“This has been the most relaxed festive period in all my time in football with the way our fixtures panned out,” he said.
“We had no game on Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve, and with our derby at Morpeth on Boxing Day falling foul of the weather, it meant it was pushing three weeks as we prepared for our scheduled match at Bishop Auckland on Tuesday (January 3).
“Having said that, it has been nice and has allowed the players and management team a period to spend time with their families and friends.
“As a club we wholeheartedly support that – on the proviso that the players will be ready to go on a positive run on their return.”
Skinner will not need to remind his players about the last time they met Benfield at Woodhorn Lane earlier in the season.
On that occasion the Newcastle-based side tore the Colliers apart and were convincing 5-1 winners.
Skinner said: “Obviously that result was a jolt for us and a wake up call.
“We will be placing a big emphasis on the cup game. It provides us with an opportunity to make progress – and also with the possibility of winning a trophy – and if we can do that it would help to keep our league form alive.
“On the flip side, if we go out then all it would leave would be to see where we finish in the table.”
Skinner added that having to reckon without Scott Blandford, Damien Stevens, Ben Richardson, James Taylor and Craig Scott – all due to long term injuries – is a big blow.
“I know injuries are part and parcel of the game, but we have only got 17 games between all five of them this season and they are big players for us,” he said.
For Tuesday night’s clash against Bishop Auckland at Heritage Park, defender Luke Salmon was in line to return to the squad following a hamstring injury but Kyle Downey and Lee McAndrew were both ruled out.