Fixture list throws up a tough start to new season for Ashington

Ashington FC have been handed a tough start to the 2016-17 Ebac Northern League season.

They open with a tie in the extra preliminary round of the FA Cup, which has yet to be drawn, then face travels to Consett and defending champions Shildon in a list which sees four of their first five games away from their Woodhorn Lane base.

The Colliers’ first home match is scheduled for Tuesday, August 16, when West Auckland make the journey up to Wansbeck.

Following Bedlington Terriers’ relegation to the second division, newly crowned FA Vase holders Morpeth Town take over the role of being Ashington’s opponents on August Bank Holiday and Boxing Day respectively.

Ashington head coach Ian Skinner said: “I’m personally delighted that we have got two really tough games at the start because it means our pre-season preparations will have to be spot on for the lads to be at the top of our game right from the off.

“It is key that we get started early and against a much fancied Consett side, who finished the campaign with an unbelievable run of eight wins from their final nine games, followed by a trip to the champions Shildon.

“This will give the management team an early indication as to where we are in terms of progression and how we fare against top sides.”

Ashington’s opening six league games are: Tuesday, August 9, Consett, away; Saturday, August 13, Shildon, away; Tuesday, August 16, West Auckland Town, home; Saturday, August 20, Sunderland RCA, away; Tuesday, August 23, Chester-le-Street, away; Saturday, August 27, Guisborough Town, home.