Ashington FC head coach Ian Skinner remained upbeat and positive despite the Colliers tasting their third consecutive defeat of the season against Shildon on Saturday.
After exiting the FA Cup at the extra preliminary round stage to Nelson, the Wansbeck side crashed to a 7-0 reverse at Consett in midweek before going down 3-0 against Shildon – the defending league champions.
However Skinner, who attended the first supporters and social club meeting of the season at Woodhorn Lane last week and acknowledged the fans’ understanding of the situation following Ashington’s poor start, said the players showed a good togetherness and the outcome could have been different had they taken chances.
“The key message for the players was to put on a performance to show they are still together and willing to work hard for each other in what has been a difficult start to the campaign,” he said.
“We set up with a game plan which for the opening quarter hour frustrated Shildon.
“Andrew Bulford missed a great one-on-one , which had he scored would have given us a whole load of confidence and belief, but then a piece of individual brilliance from Lewis Wing has undone us with a direct free kick into top left hand corner from around 30 yards.
“We still stuck to our game plan and were a little bit unfortunate with the second goal as they got a break in the centre of midfield which allowed them to counter attack.
“At half-time we spoke about our game plan and how the next goal was massive because if we scored then we were back in the game.
“We also discussed that if the score line remained at 2-0 after an hour, we would look to commit a few more bodies forward, and then at 70-75 minutes be looking to push high to get the next goal.
“Even in the second half we created a number of chances including Scott Blandford having a free header at back post.
“Overall we looked a bit more organised and the players showed a good togetherness, and on another day had we taken chances it could have been a slightly different story.
“The difference between the sides on the day was that Shildon, who had large periods of possession, took their chances when presented with them. We didn’t, and against a team of Shildon’s quality, paid the penalty.”
Meanwhile the Colliers have been drawn at home to Blyth Town in the Techflow Group Northumberland Senior Cup.
Skinner said: “In cup competitions, a home draw is always positive, but in our case, our home form last season and at the start of this has been very disappointing, so it is an area which we are looking to address quickly.
“With Blyth Town newly promoted it will be an interesting tie and one which they will very much be looking forward too.
“We will have to prepare fully for it and not take the opposition for granted and hope that on the evening our experience of being a first division side will hopefully see us progress to the next round.”
The draw in full is: Morpeth Town v Whitley Bay; Alnwick Town v Heaton Stannington; Ashington v Blyth Town; West Allotment Celtic v Team Northumbria; Newcastle Benfield v Bedlington Terriers.