Result ‘means nothing’ in pre-season derby meeting

Ashington FC assistant manager Ian Skinner. Picture by Ian Appleby -
Ashington FC assistant manager Ian Skinner. Picture by Ian Appleby -

The management teams of Ashington and Blyth Spartans are united in their thoughts ahead of Friday night’s pre-season friendly between the two sides at Woodhorn Lane.

Both camps say that the end result means nothing.

Whilst Colliers head coach Ian Skinner spoke of his admiration for the Spartans, he also said that the game was purely part of his side’s preparation.

Meanwhile Croft Park boss Tom Wade erred on the side of personal pride for his outfit.

Skinner, a football development officer for the Northumberland FA, said: “The game probably comes around during a nice part in our pre-season programme because the timing of it suits us down to the ground.

“I know we had to change the original date, but it’s good that Blyth and ourselves have honoured the game.”

The 39-year-old added: “We will go into the clash on the back of a fixture at Alnwick 48 hours earlier and will be ready to step things up again.

“It will be a good test for us because Blyth have retained the majority of last season’s squad who did very well and we will be able to assess where we are at in terms of being ready for our league start on August 8.

“I have some good friends in the opposition camp. I know assistant manager Lee Picton well and have got a lot of respect for him, whilst I’ve previously worked with Tom (Wade) when we were both involved with the county.

“I’m sure it’ll be a good game of football because both teams will try to play in the right way.

“Some people will view it differently and be looking for us to get one over on Blyth, but for me it’s part of our preparation.”

Wade said: “We are expecting a good game and a big crowd, but the result means nothing - it centres around personal pride for the lads.

“Nobody likes losing but it’s all about getting our fitness levels right and making sure the lads get on the ball and get a good touch.

“Carlisle put their first team out against us and it was a great game, but facing any Northern League opposition presents a tough challenge.

“Friday’s encounter will be a hard game against a talented side and I envisage the standard of football will be high.”

The 56-year-old added: “It’s great for the area to have Ashington, Bedlington, Morpeth, Alnwick and ourselves forming a strong Northumberland base.

“I know Steve Harmison and I have been very impressed with the job he has done so far and he has brought some good people in with him.”

Longbenton-based referee Peter Osgood will be the man in the middle with Peter Holleran and Martin Carr his assistants for the clash, which has a 7.30pm start.

Admission prices will be £5 adults, £2 concessions.

On Monday, July 20, prices and the kick-off time remain the same when Ashington host Hartlepool.

“It will be different game in lots of ways,” added Skinner.

“We will go into it as our first pre-season game where we will have to be sensible in terms of the number of players we use and look to field a more settled side.

“Hartlepool will bring experience with them and be buoyed by the fact they retained their Football League status last season after a great escape.

“I know they have been to an army camp and will be fighting fit, but we will have to manage our side wisely and be ready for them.”

Mr Osgood will again be in charge of the contest alongside Martin Wright and Neil Wright.

Meanwhile Ashington had mixed fortunes in their opening two friendlies.

They defeated the reserves 5-1 at Woodhorn Lane, who led from the first minute when Dominic Angelo Schivella capitalised on a back-pass.

But Adam Shanks, Andrew Johnson, Michael Angus and a Dylan Armstrong double saw Steve Harmison’s side to victory.

On Saturday the Colliers went down to a 1-0 defeat against Whickham, for whom Mark Pattison netted with a right foot shot in the closing minutes.