TOMMY LAWSON has tipped goalkeeper Sam Ashton to bounce back from a rare bad day at the office as Skelmersdale United prepare for a derby clash with Prescot Cables this weekend.
Ashton endured a miserable afternoon as Skem were dumped out of the FA Cup away to Tadcaster Albion on Saturday. The former Bolton Wanderers trainee made two costly errors which led to goals as Skem slipped to just their second defeat in 22 games, 4-1 at 2Inspire Park.
Lawson, though, says the 25-year-old has the strength of character to put his nightmare to the back of his mind this weekend as Skem travel to Valerie Park for their FA Trophy first qualifying round clash.
“For me, Sam Ashton is the best goalkeeper in the division,” he said. “The errors he made were uncharacteristic to say the least, but that is the goalkeeper's lot.
“The first one, he spilled a shot back into the danger area, and the second one he passed a goal kick straight to their striker. It happens sometimes. Other than that, he didn't really have a save to make.
“But he's an experienced campaigner, he will be disappointed with himself and will know he let himself down at the weekend. But he owes us nothing. He has saved us on countless occasions, so we will not be pointing any fingers at him.
“I have nothing but admiration for him, the way he conducts himself on and off the field is first class. I am confident he will bounce straight back.”
Skem's midweek clash at home to Warrington Town was called off as rain swept across the North West on Tuesday, meaning Lawson's men will have managed just four league fixtures in the opening two months of the season. It is testament to their quality that they remain third in the Evo-Stik First Division North, despite rivals having played as many as four games more.
Lawson travels to his former club this week, and is anticipating a testing fixture.
“We are in the lap of the Gods somewhat with the weather,” he admitted. “Valerie Park is a pitch that holds water, so we will need to wait and see.
“But they are on the up, Cables. Dave (Powell, manager) has had to reshape that team from scratch, so it was always going to take time. It's a tough job, Prescot, but he is up to it. I know him well, we've spoken a bit on the phone, and I wish him the best.
“For us, though, we need to keep doing what we do well. We were disappointed with last week's result, of course, but we know we have the quality to bounce straight back. We have lost two in 22; I'd take that again!”