ASHINGTON CFC skipper Liam Atkin believes the three-week lay-off which his side will have experienced should Saturday’s FA Carlsberg Vase clash against Shortwood United finally go ahead as planned, will not affect their level of performance.
The Colliers have been idle since they picked up a 1-1 draw against STL first division newcomers Newton Aycliffe on the last Saturday in January.
But an upbeat Atkin, pictured, said: “To be honest, Shortwood will be in the same boat as us on that score – whilst we will have players back, fit and fresh.
“But I reckon the lay-off will have no bearing at all on proceedings.
“People will say that we haven’t played for three weeks but we are unbeaten since before Boxing Day in a seven-match run and we have seen off some good teams along the way.
“The break has not been ideal but we have worked hard in training and will not only be fresh for the game but also confident.”
Twenty-five-year-old Atkin, a coach for the Newcastle United Foundation, also acknowledges that the Ashington management team of Gary Middleton, Neil Winskill and Richie Bond will have once again done their homework.
“When we played Spennymoor recently in the league and beat them 4-1, the bosses got it tactically right and we played the game to our strengths,” he added.
“I’m sure they will have it all worked out again.
“At Newport Pagnell the dossier was spot on and now on Saturday we will be made aware of Shortwood’s strengths and weaknesses whilst we have got different things in our locker and a variety of players that can do different jobs when asked.”
Atkin said he is delighted the tie has reverted back to Saturday.
“I prefer it that way,” he said.
“I don’t play Sunday football and just love a traditional 3pm kick-off on a Saturday afternoon.
“We will travel down on the Friday and the long drive will bring us closer together as a team.
“Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a home game, but going away and with an overnight stay means that we get stronger as a unit and understand what it means to win a game not just for us but also the fans.
“We are going down there looking to secure a place in the last eight and hope we have another good coach journey back home on Saturday night.
“We have learned from our mistakes of the past and now know what it takes to win big games.”