PRE SEASON FRIENDLY (Behind closed doors):
Ashington 3, Bedlington Terriers 0 at Woodhorn Lane

By Brian Bennett

A strong second half performance from Ashington led them to victory over their
neighbours Bedlington in a pre-season friendly which was played behind closed doors
on Wednesday night. And it was two players making their return to Woodhorn Lane –
Dean Briggs and Ben Harmison – who got the goals against a Terriers side who never
gave up. Indeed it was the visitors who made an impressive start and after Leighton
Hopper had fired over on the half volley from 20 yards, Mackenzie Sharpe was through
one-on-one with only Adam McHugh to beat but saw the ‘keeper deny him. Midway
through the period, only the woodwork denied the Terriers when a shot from Keelan
Nellis thudded against the post and Cameron Fenton’s follow up effort was deflected
over by a last ditch block from home skipper David Luke. Ashington’s only threat came
via two long range efforts from Danny Anderson with ‘keeper Callum Corkhill tipping
both over the bar. Then on the stroke of half time, Hopper found Sharpe whose low drive
was turned around by McHugh. Ashington boss Ian Skinner made wholesale changes at
the interval and 80 seconds after the restart, Harmison’s through pass found Jack Butler
whose effort was deflected behind for a corner. However, in the 49 th minute, Briggs
broke the deadlock with a wonder strike. Ben Sampson played the ball into the
midfielder who took a touch before curling a terrific right footer from 20 yards wide of
Corkhill and inside the top corner. Max Emmerson had a shot repelled by the ‘keeper
and from the resultant corner on the left, Lewis Robson – making his first appearance
after sustaining a bad injury in early January – floated the ball in for Harmison whose
header clipped the bar and went over. Ashington doubled their advantage in the 63 rd
minute with Briggs claiming his second following a superb four man move. Harmison
glanced on a throw in from Sampson and Butler – looking razor sharp – used his pace to
move into the area before unselfishly squaring the ball to Briggs who had the easy task
of slotting into an empty net. Quarter of an hour later, it was 3-0. Sampson slipped the
ball across to Harmison and the striker made no mistake in finding the bottom corner
with a left foot effort from 16 yards. Ashington could have added to their tally through

Briggs and Butler but both players were denied by the brilliance of substitute ‘keeper
Rob Hodgson whilst at the other end, James Cooper just failed to connect after a low
cross from Mason Stephenson.

Managers After Match Comments

Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner was naturally delighted with his playing squad
following their 3-0 win in the derby friendly against Bedlington Terriers at Woodhorn
Lane on Wednesday night. However, the boss admitted that he will be keeping things
low-key: “All in all, it was a good night but I don’t get hung-up on results pre season –
and certainly not tonight with this being our start. It was our first game since we played
North Shields away in March and it was a good work out. We haven’t been back as long
as some of the other teams but it was a benefit to get everybody back on the pitch. We
tried to mix the teams up a little bit – so my first half team was predominantly made up of
lads who were with us last year whilst for the second period, the team was
predominantly all the lads I have brought in, give or take one or two.” He continued: “I
think in the first half it showed we hadn’t played for a little while because we were too
slow in moving the ball. Bedlington were sharper than us but I think it was their third
game so they are probably a little bit ahead of where we are at the moment. Second half
we brought some of the new lads on – and obviously it was great to see Dean Briggs
chip in with a brace and Ben Harmison get a goal so it’s good that they are off and
running. In the second 45 minutes, we looked a real threat with pace and power up front,
and good combination play in and around the box. To be honest and without being
disrespectful, the final third is one of the areas we knew as a club – as well as the people
who watched us last season – where we needed to be a little bit better so it looks as if
that is going to come home to roost.” Bedlington Terriers boss David Leightley said: “It
was a great work out and both teams got something out of the game. First half we were
probably on top but second half Ashington brought some of the bigger guns on and
maybes we sat back a little bit. I didn’t think it was a bad performance from us and after
the initial ten minutes of the second half, we seemed to get our shape back and do
things better. Tonight wasn’t our first friendly but by the same token we haven’t played
against the quality of the opposition we have tonight. Generally we are very happy. We
have started working on a different shape and maybes we need to bring more quality
into the squad but which manager wouldn’t say that?”

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