Ashington coach Skinner hoping Durham game won’t be snowed off

Ian Skinner.
Ian Skinner.
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Ashington Football Club are desperately hoping to finally return to action on Saturday when they travel south to Consett for a clash against Durham City.

The Citizens are now ground-sharing with the Steelmen, and Colliers head coach Ian Skinner reckons the game has a far better chance of going ahead on Consett’s 3G surface than it would on grass.

Ashington have now been inactive for seven weeks, and Skinner said: “We are hanging our hat on Saturday’s game to beat the weather.

“After not playing for so long, this is our little shining light at the end of the tunnel, and we can see this encounter going ahead.

“However, I’m chuckling a little bit as I say this because I have seen the weather forecast, which predicts snow next week, and the first place where it falls in the region is Consett.

“Certainly, it would be just our luck that thinking about getting a game on, that it would be off, but, to be honest, we have been looking at Saturday as a key date because we are desperate – as is almost every other team in the league – to get going again because we really need a competitive game.

“All we can do is hope the snow stays away, and we can get the green light.”

Ashington’s next scheduled home fixture is on Saturday week, January 23, against Newcastle Benfield, but a cautious Skinner admitted: “If I’m brutally honest, I cannot see when the next game will be played at Woodhorn Lane because it’s going to take a lot to dry it out and get it to a situation where, first and foremost, it would be fit to play, but then also not destroy it for the rest of the season.

“In time, it will be declared fit, but the first game is going to cause severe, and probably irreparable, damage to the pitch, and we need to be conscious of that because the last thing we want, having waited this long, is to play, then cause further postponements down the line because people cannot get on to do maintenance work on it, so we need to be very careful.

“Unfortunately, the home game to Washington last weekend fell victim to the weather.

“We train on a Thursday evening and meet at the ground before going to the Hirst Welfare Centre on the 3G, and I couldn’t resist the opportunity to walk on the pitch at Woodhorn Lane and see the condition of it for myself, and there was no chance of the game being on. You could physically hear the turf squelching, and there was water coming up with every step going forward.

“There was also surface water lying in the bottom goal area towards the old clubhouse end, and even the penalty box at the other end, which drains particularly well, had water in it and was a bit of a mess.”

As things stand, the Techflow Northumberland Senior Cup quarter-final game between North Shields and Ashington is still scheduled to be staged at the Daren Persson Stadium on Wednesday, January 20.