With his side at the foot of the Blue Square North table and without a win in six league games heading into Tuesday night’s encounter with Vauxhall Motors at Croft Park, Blyth Spartans manager Steve Cuggy must surely have not imagined that things could possibly get any worse.
But with the match just five minutes old, Cuggy could only stand and watch as his goalkeeper David Knight was shown a straight red card by referee Graeme Fyvie.
Despite falling behind on 37 minutes through a Leighton McGivern strike, the 10 men of Blyth refused to let their heads drop and deservedly hit back with a goal of their own four minutes later, with Wayne Buchanan getting his name on the score sheet for the first time in Spartans colours.
Vauxhall, however, eventually made their numerical advantage count as McGivern got his second of the evening with nine minutes remaining.
McGivern was at the centre of things from the start as he found himself through on goal and attempted to loft a shot over the onrushing Knight.
The Blyth goalkeeper parried the ball away but the linesman waved his flag frantically to signal that contact was made outside the area, and Knight was dismissed.
Substitute goalkeeper Matt Crook replaced the unfortunate Lee Mason as Cuggy was forced into making a change with 85 minutes of the contest remaining.
The visitors then had opportunities to rub salt into Spartans’ wounds as McGivern came close before the ball fell kindly for Mattie Burke on two occasions in the area but he failed to hit the target with either effort.
At the other end, the hosts almost went ahead when a dangerous cross from Wayne Phillips fell kindly for Jamie Mole and he was just about to tap home to give Blyth the lead before a last ditch tackle from John Bennet denied the striker from close range.
Blyth’s Graeme Armstrong then came close with three headers in the space of two minutes but all were saved by Vauxhall goalkeeper Lloyd Saxton.
Vauxhall looked dangerous as they surged forward in numbers and only a good save by Crook prevented Kevin Holsgrove from firing his side into the lead.
Vauxhall went ahead when Neal Hooks uncharacteristically gave the ball straight to Craig Mahon who squared for McGivern and the striker scored with his second attempt after his initial shot was blocked by Dan Groves.
At this point the home support were envisaging a long night ahead but saw their side hit back before the break when a cross from Hooks eventually found Buchanan at the back post, who prodded home from close range.
After the interval, only a terrific point blank save from Crook prevented Vauxhall from regaining the lead through Mahon.
In fairness Spartans did all they could to find a winner of their own.
Firstly Greg Pearson rose highest in the area but couldn’t guide his header on target before two mazy runs from Phillips into the Vauxhall area deserved better than just a corner on each occasion.
With Blyth running out of steam Vauxhall motored into the lead once more, and this time there would be no way back for Spartans as McGivern controlled a deep cross into the area before firing past Crook.
The result means Blyth stay rooted to the bottom of the Blue Square North ahead of Hinckley United’s trip to Croft Park on Saturday.
Blyth Spartans: Knight, Groves, Cave (Slaughter), Briggs, Buchanan, Pearson, Mason (Crook), Hooks, Armstrong, Mole (Taylor), Phillips
Vauxhall Motors: Saxton, Fearnehough, Dames, Hannigan, Bennett (Jones), Burke, Mahon, Mannix, McGivern, Holsgrove, Lawless
Referee: Mr Fyvie.