Blyth Spartans manager Tommy Cassidy didn’t know whether to laugh or cry on Saturday – so he did both.
A majestic first half performance by his side away at Hinckley certainly put a smile on the Irishman’s face but on the coach back to the north east his head was bowed with incredulity. How could his team show that they could play so well, and win 3-1, and yet be relegated?
“We were so good to watch in the first 45 minutes,” he said. “We paralysed them to go three up before the break. For the first time this season I thought ‘I’m enjoying this’! We played in a way which we have rarely done this year and destroyed Hinckley. But as I sat on the bus coming home I couldn’t get my head round how we are in the league position which we are. Really we should have been comfortably mid-table”.
Cassidy continued: “Our opening goal after 14 minutes was a brilliant set up. Wayne Phillips tortured their fullback and crossed for Glen Taylor to head back to Robbie Dale to score. Taylor set up Joe Kendrick to score after 28 minutes and then fellow fullback Dan Groves scored what I thought was the goal of the game. Put in by Dale he rounded the keeper to put us three up.
“Ok in the second half we weren’t as much in control but we were playing against a strong wind. But I took positives from both halves – in the first we showed how we can play and in the second we showed that we could also dig in”.
Already looking forward to next season Cassidy took hopeful messages from the weekend’s showing but none of his players will be resting on their laurels.
“I’ve told them all that they are playing for their places. There isn’t a player who won’t be invited back next year but we’ll see in the pre-season who can up their game and deserve to stay. One or two might not like that but that way has worked for me over the years,” he said.
“The key to a team is its core,” he added. “Goalkeeper, centre midfield and centre forward are critical positions”.
Cassidy intends to have his quad back in training early in July and starting at least six friendlies two weeks later.
Meanwhile the Blyth boss encouraged home fans to turn up in their numbers this coming Saturday for the home game against play-off hopefuls Nuneaton, “They have a lot to play for and we should have won our last three games and I’ll be picking a team to win the match although I want everyone involved”.