Braves to play at Ashington

Football.

Blyth AFC will be playing their remaining home games of the 2017-18 season at Woodhorn Lane, home of Ashington CFC, writes Andrew McDonnell.

The Braves, who currently sit fourth in the Northern League Division Two, announced the news on Friday morning via their social media accounts.

Joint-manager Ian Skinner is hoping that the move to Ashington is a smooth one, as a few of Blyth’s players have played for the Colliers in the past.

He said: “Obviously the players are aware of the move to Woodhorn Lane, and it is a move which they believe will benefit us as they have found playing the way in which we all want to play, difficult on the surface at South Newsham.”

Problems with the playing surface, at South Newsham, was brought to the attention of the Northern League Management Committee, but the initial ground move request was turned down.

However, after an FA appointed pitch inspector carried out a visit, his report was sent into the LMC and their initial decision was reviewed and overturned.

“The only reason for the switch is because of the playing surface,” Skinner added.

“South Newsham has deteriorated due to a very high usage programme and it is has become very difficult for the groundsman to maintain the surface to a level that the teams using require, despite his very valiant efforts.”

“The FA Pitch Improvement report indicated that the surface was not at the standard required and for that reason the league have allowed us to seek an alternative venue.”

Skinner was head coach under former Colliers manager Steve Harmison, and the likes of Kyle Oliver, Paul Antony, James Harmison and Michael Chilton have all played for Ashington in the past.

“It’s a familiar setting for not only myself, but a number of the squad as well.

“It’s hoped that with the surroundings being very familiar, it will help us to settle in quickly and, of course, it’ll be nice to go back to what is one of the best non-league grounds in the North East.

“There’ll be a lot of familiar faces, who’ll be involved behind the scenes when we play there and it’ll be good to catch up with them and hopefully we might see a few familiar faces in the stands when we play our games.”

Blyth’s first game at Woodhorn Lane is on Wednesday night as they play host to Ryton and Crawcrook Albion and then on Saturday against Darlington RA.

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