Armstrong focused on ‘tough’ Christmas Schedule

Alun Armstrong praised an all-round team performance as Blyth Spartans made it five wins on the bounce in a comfortable win over Ashton United.

Goals from Sean Reid and Robert Dale in the second half secured all three points for Blyth – Spartans now just two points outside of the play-off places in ninth.

But Armstrong was keen to temper expectations in his post-match comments, stating once again that the club’s first target must be to stay in the National League North – and suggest the club’s fortunes will rest upon injuries within the squad:

“We know that when we are fully fit, we are a match for any team in this division, but we saw earlier in the season how injuries can decimate our squad – we played for a month with three teenagers on the bench.

“We have a tough few games coming up, Chorley were flying to start the season and have had a blip lately, but they still have great quality, especially at home.

“Then we play Spennymoor Town twice, who are in excellent form – Jason Ainsley has them playing some fantastic football, they’ll be really tough. And we have York City in between those two games.”

And with the tough Christmas schedule on the horizon, Armstrong is delighted his side have produced the goods in the last few weeks.

“The five wins are vital for us, we had to win the majority of those games with the fixtures we have coming up.

“We have confidence going into the next few games, and as I’ve said a number of times, we are a confidence side. We’re a streaky side and when we are in-form we are difficult to beat.”

Robert Dale is now just one goal away from 200 in a green and white shirt, whilst Sean Reid continues to contribute goals from midfield, and the 43-year-old praised is dynamic frontline over the winning run.

“Everyone is contributing at the top of the pitch, and that’s giving me a headache.

“Nipa has been scoring in recent weeks, Jarrett netted a couple last week, Robbie is scoring, and Reid is always a threat from midfield, I know we are always capable of scoring goals.

“I turned around to the bench and I had Jamie Holmes and Bradley Fewster sitting there, Adam Wrightson wasn’t even available today – we have so much talent going forward.”

But it was the defence that Armstrong lauded the most in a ‘complete’ team performance.

“Defensively we were outstanding – no last-ditch tackles, to diving stops on the line – Peter Jameson came into the dressing room with a clean jersey, that tells you the story of the game.”

Lewis Horner came into the side for Alex Nicholson at right-back, and Armstrong was delighted with his defender’s contribution.

“It was fantastic display by Horner, he’s done well at right-back over recent weeks and with performances like he is making it impossible for me to leave him out.

“He’s fully fit and you can see his undoubted quality, it’s taken a while due to injuries and fitness but he’s beginning to show the talent that had him featuring in the Scottish Premiership.”

Posted by Stuart Dick