According to a seething Blyth Spartans manager Mick Tait the referee for the Spartans’ game at home to Gloucester City at the weekend should have been scouring the property pages on Sunday morning.
This after filing his match report to the FA which would include a section on Tait’s behaviour early in the match and his sending off as a consequence.
Following a dispute about a penalty given to the visitors in the 13th minute Tait raced from his technical area to speak to the referee.
“He told me to go back to my box,” said Tait. “ I told him I would if he answered one question. I asked him if he’d seen a handball in the box. He replied that he had. I said I thought that wasn’t true and he sent me off.”
Tait later apologised to the official for his behaviour saying it wasn’t like him but asked again about the validity of the decision.
“The ref said he’d put his house on it. I told him he’d just lost his house in that case.”
The episode did little to mask the fact that Blyth turned in a dismal performance. The 3-0 defeat was a bad result and especially frustrating following Blyth’s highly creditable 1-1 draw at highflying Hinckley earlier in the week.
Tait commented, “We did really well on Monday night and then to play like we did on Saturday, and in front of a crowd of over 500, is tremendously disappointing. We were all looking forward to the game and everyone was positive but too many players had off days. You can sometimes get through if one or two have a bad day but not when seven or eight are not performing at their maximum like on Saturday.
“Our midfield was really poor, giving no protection to the defence. Having said that the defence was poor too!”
The penalty decision followed a tackle by Michael Tait which Tait reckons saw the ball hit the players’ thigh and then stomach before ricocheting away.
“No way did it touch his hand. Both of them were above his head, but the ref was adamant,” bemoaned Tait.
Lee Smith, who had been causing Blyth problems from the start, converted the penalty with ease.
Blyth did have their moments in the first half which featured several crosses from the left wing delivered by Stephen Turnbull but which his colleagues were unable to convert.
Blyth goalkeeper Jack Norton, who was suffering with a painful toe, was replaced after 33 minutes by Mark Bell.
The second half saw Blyth’s second substitution with Simon Todd on for left back John Brackstone who had picked up a severe dead leg and was feeling like his thigh might tear.
“Hopefully we got him off in time and that it is just a dead leg,” commented Tait.
While Gloucester continued to look dangerous on the break Blyth came close to equalising, twice through Paul Brayson and with efforts by Robbie Dale and Tait.
“As bad as we were if their keeper had not done so well, and we’d scored in that period of the match, we may have perked up and gone on to win,” suggested Tait.
However on 68 minutes the visitors added to their lead when Smith scored once more and in added time Neikell Plumber turned Blyth defender Gatreth Williams and was fouled by Richard Pell for a clear-cut penalty. Smith scored to complete his hatrick and to well and truly finish off a dispirited Blyth side.
“Both their second and third goals came from breakaways,” said Tait. “The second was really poor on our behalf. We gave the ball away in midfield and Moreford was allowed to run from his own half into our box. Moreford was always dangerous with his pace, causing chaos running in to the channels. I’d told our defence how you can play against pace but it went in one ear and out the other!”
Former Darlington centre back Stephen Foster, who has impressed since signing recently, missed the Gloucester game due to a family illness while Tait explained why John Alexander started the game ahead of Ian Graham.
“John deserved another start after running Hinckley raged on Monday and it would have been unfair to leave him out. On Saturday he played in a team which just didn’t turn up.”
Tait suggested the reasons for Blyth’s poor showing of late.
“We were fairly safe early in the campaign and actually began to flirt with the play offs,” he said. The play offs however spurned the Spartans’ advances and, according to Tait, injuries and the defeat by Telford meant his side falling away.
Strategic thinking and planning are rare virtues in the world of football where the desire for immediate gratification consumes both the Boardroom and the terraces alike.
So it is refreshing to know that Blyth and their manager are thinking differently.
Tait explained, “We’ve been a bit short of players recently which again has seen us drop points and league placings but we don’t want to cut into next season’s budget. It’s a bit disheartening to see us not where I think we ought to be in the table but it’s pointless throwing money away at this time.”
A pragmatic Tait may need to remain so if the FA hand out a punishment following his misdemeanours on Saturday.
The Spartans take on Northern League neighbours Ashington on Tuesday night in the semi-final of the Tynetec Northumberland Senior Cup.
Tait expects a tough test.
“They will be up for it all right. We’ve got to forget about Saturday, be positive and try to recapture the form we showed at Hinckley.”
The Spartans then host Hyde United on Saturday.