NEIL Winskill is hoping Ashington can continue the trend of the past couple of years as they bid to reach the second qualifying round of this season’s FA Cup.
The Colliers line up against last season’s losing FA Vase finalists West Auckland on Saturday at Woodhorn Lane after the two sides played out a thrilling 3-3 draw in their Ebac Northern League first division encounter last weekend.
However, assistant manager Winskill is adamant that cup games not only bring the best out of his outfit but also the fanatical home support.
“The FA Cup is a one-off game and it tends to bring the best out of people including the players and our fans,” he said.
Winskill believes the clubs will line up in the first round qualifier on an even keel.
“We have had a good look at each other after the league clash,” he added.
“I reckon that was pretty close to being West’s best team whilst we had one or two missing, so honours are even and both sides go in on Saturday with no physiological advantage at all.
“The fact we have played each other Saturday probably saves both management teams the time to see each other, which is one positive, but from our point of view we have lads in our dressing room this season who are able to change style and change shape.
“We played 4-4-2 Saturday but we are capable of playing other ways, so we will sit down this week and have a look back at the game and scrutinise what we could have done differently – like how can we exploit them more and how we can make sure that we don’t get as bossed by them as we did the second half.”
The league clash attracted a crowd of 263 – home officials are hoping to top that figure in the FA Cup – and Winskill believes home supporters can play a significant role.
“The crowd always help us here,” he said.
“It’s one of those places where if you are in the opposition team you don’t particularly like to visit because the crowd are so vocal, and even more so when Ashington are in the cup.
“The competition always seems to spur the spectators on and they can really drive us forward, and in turn we can hopefully turn that into goals.”
West Auckland boss Peter Dixon, who admitted that his side’s first half showing was the worst since he took over as boss two and half years ago, believes the tie is evenly poised.
“It’s set up, that’s for sure,” he said.
“We were poor first half on Saturday and Ashington were poor second half, but I thought the wind played a big part.
“I was disappointed that we got our heads in front at one stage and conceded, but at half-time I would have taken a draw.”
Dixon added: “We will always score goals because we are an attack-minded team, but we are liable to concede.
“It’s our achilles heel from last season which has spilled over into this campaign, and it’s something which I have got to sort out.
“Our first half performance was probably the worst since I took over, and I told the players so at half-time.
“We have scored three goals and haven’t played well, but we need to address our deficiencies at the back.”
“It’s early in the season but I’m looking forward to Saturday, and hope that conditions are better for the supporters, if nothing else.”
The game has a 3pm kick-off.