Tommy Cassidy, manager of Blue Square North Blyth Spartans, tells of a saying in football that players can’t promise to play well but they can promise to work hard. His side fulfilled their promise to put in the effort in their game at home to Corby on Saturday and actually went further and played well too. But not well enough to win. A 2-1 defeat was harsh on Cassidy’s men who showed they are up for the scrap to avoid relegation.
“We have got two points from the last three games when it could have been nine due to the way we have played,” said Cassidy. “But there’s no denying that we need an out and out goal scorer. We dominated large parts of the Corby game but couldn’t take advantage of the chances we created. It was very disappointing”.
A frenetic opening half saw the home side pressing the visitors and playing decisive quick passing football. Responding to Cassidy’s urging from the touchline – ‘Go, go, go!’ – the Spartans were closing down well and with a new found conviction. Max Harrop came close for Blyth and Glen Taylor shot lamely to the keeper when well placed. At the other end defender Phil Cave did well on two occasions denying the impressive James Ozmen.
Disaster struck on the cusp of halftime when Mark Jones found space to neatly steer the ball past Blyth goalkeeper Rob Birdsall to put his side one nil up at the break.
Cassidy was singularly unimpressed: “We let Corby in on our left hand side and with Jones only ten yards out we didn’t make any contact with him and he had the freedom to shoot”.
Immediately from the restart Ozmen had a glorious chance to put his side two up but sliced his effort badly.
Blyth responded with Armstrong and Taylor fashioning half chances and Shaun Utterson just failing to make connection with a superb cross whipped in from the left by Wayne Phillips.
“That was typical of us,” thought Cassidy. “We just needed someone to get a head, a body, a shoulder, whatever on to that ball but we don’t have people to take those chances at the moment! Graeme Armstrong and Glen Taylor work hard but we’re not putting our chances away”.
Max Harrop equalised for Blyth with a stunning 25 yard dipping shot on 59 minutes and Cassidy then replaced Armstrong with Jamie Mole and Dan Groves with Richie Slaughter. Armstrong was carrying a shoulder injury and Groves a groin pull.
Keeper Birdasll made two good saves to prevent Corby regaining the lead but stood no chance when Sam Mullarky was given time to shoot past him with seven minutes remaining.
For Cassidy it was another of those head in hands moments which have been so common for him of late. “It was another stupid goal to give away. At one goal each I thought we’d go on to win it but again we conceded in a silly way! We need to get some breaks as well as clearing up our injury list”.
As well as issues with Armstrong and Groves, Lee Mason, Phil Bannister and Carl Jones are out while Phil Cave is also struggling.
“On top of that,” said Cassidy, “Goalkeepers David Knight and Matt Hunter are also injured and to add insult to injury – literally – our goalkeeping coach Carl King is injured too!”
Turning to this Tuesday’s game at Croft Park against Altrincham Cassidy is looking for a breakthrough.
“If we can win on Tuesday everything changes. We need that first win on the board and although we would still face a hard slog it could ignite us. I’d like to thank the supporters for sticking with us and I hope they come along and get behind us again this week”.
Cassidy will be hoping the players will continue to keep their promises and if they do it may just be possible that the ‘Promised Land’ of league security could be achieved.