Skinner admits Ashington had an ‘off day’

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

Ashington FC head coach Ian Skinner praised his players after they had again fought back to earn a 2-2 draw with Bishop Auckland at Woodhorn Lane on Saturday.

However, Skinner thought they may have been too protective.

Andrew Johnson and substitute Joe Race were on target with right foot strikes in the closing quarter hour.

Skinner said: “When you look at your watch and there’s 20 minutes to go and you are 2-0 down and someone asks if you would take a 2-2 draw, if I’m being honest you shake their hand and say ‘thank you very much’.

“Having said that, after working hard to get back on terms, I thought we were very much in the ascendancy and the game became bitty which broke up our momentum a little bit.

“I don’t want to take anything away from our players because they got back to earn a point, but I’m not sure if they thought ‘let’s not lose this’, rather than keep the momentum which we had and think ‘can we really go on and win it?’.

“That was the gut feeling I got watching from the side, but I can understand it.”

But the head coach was clearly disappointed after the opening 45 minutes.

“I didn’t think we started the game particularly well,” he said.

“We neither pressed high or were compact behind the ball and allowed Bishops too much time to move the ball, which they did quite well.

“Conditions were difficult with the wind proving to be a bit of a spoiler and a leveller, and Bishops’ opener was a poor goal defensively to concede.

“Their striker Andrew Johnson, whom we know all about, has popped the ball off and spun away from his runner and tucked it home into the bottom corner.

“I was pleased to get in 1-0 down at the interval, but we analysed the half and on reflection we have had two or three of the better chances but haven’t taken them.

“We talked about being patient and how difficult it had been for us first half and how Bishops would experience the same, but they looked quite dangerous on the break at times and we looked as if we forced things a little bit too much.”

Despite the final result, Skinner believed the Ashington players had an ‘off day’

He added: “I wasn’t happier with our performance second half and I think we had an off day.

“But that was probably going to happen sooner rather than later on this fantastic run which we are on.

“Having said that, credit to the players because we haven’t lost the game and they have shown good character and spirit to come back.

“We have challenged the lads recently because we want to play fast, open, expansive attacking football.

“We want to score goals but we also want to win football matches, and at the moment our little phrase with the players is ‘find a way to win the game’, and they almost did that today.”

Skinner poured praise on goal scorers Andrew Johnson and Joe Race.

“If I’m being tough on AJ, he should have scored in the first half,” he said.

“But then he sets himself high standards and we look our most dangerous when we get Andrew and Chris Moore into the game and get the ball wide and they come in off the line.

“Andrew loves to open the goal up and bend the ball into the far post.

“Today he has come off the right flank and put it into the top corner and it was a great finish, whilst with Joe you know what you are going to get.

“He’s going to give you 100 per cent and not going to let the opposition back four settle.

“He chased a lost cause and the ball has dropped to him and he’s clipped in a great strike.”

Meanwhile Skinner explained his decision to bring off Lee Scott.

He said: “I took him off and I’ve taken a bit of stick from some of the supporters because they were saying ‘we are 2-0 down and need another striker on’, and I understand and accept that.

“What they didn’t realise was the thinking behind it, which was bringing two centre forwards on and bringing a wide man and a centre forward off, so we actually ended the game with three centre forwards on the field.”