Exciting times at Ashton Athletic
Tue 6th September 2016 | Ashton Athletic | By Ian Templeman
Ashton Athletic achieved one of the finest results in their history last weekend, with a 7-2 win over Evo-Stik League Mossley in the FA Cup First Qualifying Round.
The win booked a place in the Second Qualifying Round for the first time in the club’s history, and the Yellows can now look forward to one of the biggest games in their history, when FC Halifax Town come to Brocstedes Park a week on Saturday.
The club’s management trio of Jay Foulds, Dougie Pitts and Ben Kay reflected afterwards on the game and current events at a the club.
Ben: I felt we had it in us to a get a result. It wasn’t too long ago that we played Mossley in a pre-season friendly, and we beat them 4-1. I don’t think their side has changed that much, I think they still had about 60-70% of the same team.
I thought the game plan we played went well. We ran the channels, the two centre forwards worked hard and I thought we were deserving of the win.
Dougie: I think we have grown up a lot this year, in past years since we have been in charge we would possibly have panicked a little bit when they came out in the second half and scored straight away. But credit to the lads, as Ben said we hit them in the right areas and hit them on the break a little bit.
Jay: I think the conditions suited us better than it did them. They are a big side and I was worried about set pieces, but I thought we were excellent in dealing with them. We did everything we needed to do, and when we moved the ball quickly they couldn’t get near us and I thought we controlled the game.
There was a passage of play when we were on the back foot a bit and soaked the pressure up, but in the second half I thought we were unplayable.
Dougie: They are obviously going to have a share of the possession as they are a league higher than us, but I thought we were fantastic and worked our socks off, and the goals came at the right time, especially the fourth goal. That was massively important (took the score to 4-2), because if they had gone and got another to equalise at that stage, I think it’s game over against a very good side.
I think it's also important to say that we probably just caught Mossley on a bad day, and we mustn't get too carried away with the result.
The current squad
Ben: I think we are still a bit naive at times, and if you put our ages on paper, apart from me and Sam Bailey you are looking at the 20 -22 age range. But what we have got now is that the lads want to work hard, they have got energy and want to score goals.
Dougie: In previous seasons we have probably not scored as many goals as we should have, but you look at the last few games and we are looking dangerous and taking our chances, so long may it continue.
Jay: We just need to be careful we don’t score too many because that is when other clubs start looking at us!
Ben: We have a squad now where we feel that we can lose someone without it weakening us, for example on Saturday our club captain was on the bench for the whole game.
Dougie: The lads look hungry and have done since pre-season. They look like they really want to do something where in previous years they have come to play football, and if they get result fine, and if they don't they still go home and perhaps feel the same. But I think they have grown up a bit and look a bit more hungry to get results this year.
Jay: The big thing for me is team spirit at the minute. We went up to Dunston in pre-season for a friendly, we actually got battered in the game, but the team spirit there was massive. We had a night out, we had a good team bonding, and we have taken that into the season.
The rest of the season
Jay: Will we change our approach after a result like Saturday? Not at all, in fact we came in at half time and actually had a go at them although we were 3-1 up because it was below the standards we set.
We know how good these lads are, and it is frustrating for us because they have the potential but sometimes don’t believe in themselves enough, and when they do they can play like they did on Saturday.
I think in previous years if the lads had gone a goal down, the heads would have gone a bit, but now they want to fight and try and win games, that's the difference now.
Ben: A cup game like Saturday is fantastic and great to get this far, but the league is very important. We have always had slow starts in the league and the cup is a bit of a bonus.
Saturday is the first time we had a full squad to choose from, we had holidays, injuries, a few weeks ago it was frightening how many injuries we had. We had a great pre-season and results and then at the start of the season lads started dropping out and we couldn't get a settled side.
But now people are back, there’s competition for places, and some of the people who have stepped up not just from the reserves but the under 18s have done well, and that is brilliant for the club.
Jay: Consistency is the key and that has been the problem since we took over, although we have done well. But, now we are four or five unbeaten hopefully we can push on now. You get in the habit of winning, luck goes your way and little things fall for you, and hopefully we can start now pushing up the league.
Dougie: But we have another great cup tie to look forward to as well. The draw on Monday for the Second Qualifying Round of the FA Cup was fantastic, and we were almost as nervous as we were going into the previous round! The lads throughly deserve to test themselves against such a prestigious Non-League team as FC Halifax Town and they are all on cloud nine and looking forward to the challenge.