Blyth Spartans manager Mick Tait is continuing to make sweeping changes at the club.
Defender Andrew Leeson who has played over 300 games for Blyth, and who scored against Shrewsbury Town in last season’s FA Cup run, has been released and looks likely to join former Spartans boss Harry Dunn at Whitby. In addition Tait has brought Craig Turns back to Croft Park as first choice goalkeeper in a move that sees Mark Bell, who also played a major part in the Cup run, demoted to the bench.
26-year-old Turns is delighted to return to Croft Park following three years playing for Consett and Durham.
“When Mick Tait asked me to come I jumped at the chance. I know many of the Blyth lads and I’ve known Mick’s assistant Adam Sadler since I was a lad and we’ve been on FA goalkeeping courses together.”
Turns’ debut on Saturday against Solihull Moors saw him pull off some fine reaction saves in a 2-0 victory for Blyth.
The Spartans secured the three points despite not playing their best football of the season to date.
“It was difficult for us in the end” commented Tait. “We didn’t perform as well as we can but the performance is secondary to the result. I think the lads were a bit edgy after the last two results which saw us lose at Eastwood and only draw at Vauxhall Motors.”
“ But considering we had to play a makeshift back four I thought we did OK.”
Regular right back Stephen Harrison was at a wedding while left back John Brackstone had work commitments. Tait brought in Michael Tait on the right with Darren Craddock switching to left back and Kenny Boyle partnering captain Gareth Williams in the central positions.
Boyle grabbed his opportunity with an impressive display.
“Kenny did very well,” said Tait. “He’s quick, strong, decent in the air and is a capable footballer but he still has things to learn and needs to work a little on his positional sense.”
Blyth took the lead after 28 minutes with a Robbie Dale goal which was typical of his overall imperious performance.
Outwitting the defender Dale, with his angle on goal suggesting he was about to strike the ball with his left foot, shifted his balance and prodded the ball across the goal and into the far corner to the surprise of goalkeeper Crane amongst others.
Dale is currently producing a consistency of form that has eluded him for several seasons and appears to be relishing linking up with new striker Paul Brayson whom he picked out several times at the weekend with perfectly weighted and adroit passes.
Chris McCabe, in his final game before suspension, scored Blyth’s second with a cool finish early in the second half.
Tait is disappointed that McCabe will be missing for the next few games but not unduly so as he feels he has good cover across the midfield positions.
“Adrian Webster wasn’t fully fit on Saturday, suffering from a hamstring injury, but he will be pushing for a place at Gloucester next weekend while Ian Graham has had a problem with a thigh muscle but hopes to be fit again soon. Both lads have a great attitude which, in Webster’s case was shown last week when he was prepared to travel to Merseyside for the Vauxhall game knowing he wasn’t fit but was still prepared to sit on the bench.”
Another midfielder, Simon Todd, hasn’t featured much so far this season but is much admired by manager Tait.
“I’ve had a chat with Simon and I know he wants to play. He is an extremely talented player and in fact I don’t think there is a better footballer at the club. However he’s been struggling a bit physically at this level.”
Tait is on the lookout for another defender following the departure of Andrew Leeson who he praised for his contribution over several years.
“It’s sad in a way that he’s gone because he is a good player and has been a good servant to Blyth but he wasn’t comfortable with the way we playing this season. I wish him well for the future.”