Darlo post-match | Stephenson: We need to fight for the badge

Blyth Spartans assistant manager Paul Stephenson has called on his players to “fight for the badge” after a seventh defeat of the season at Darlington last night. 

An early Callum Roberts goal on just his second appearance for the club had threatened a change in fortunes for Lee Clark’s side, however were instead pegged back just three minutes later through Adam Campbell. 

For large parts of the game, the Spartans defence withstood pressure from the home side, only for Stephen Thompson to smash a stunning strike past Mark Foden with 15 minutes remaining. 

Stephenson expressed how much he, Clark, the coaching staff and players were hurting as their tough start to the campaign continued against a side they felt were there to be exploited. 

We’re massively disappointed,” said the former Middlesbrough under-23s manager. 

“I thought it was a fantastic opportunity for us and I do even more now having seen the opponents but you can’t knock them, they found a way to win the game. 

“It was scrappy at times but ultimately they have taken their chances whereas we haven’t. We had chances towards the end. 

“I can’t express more how much we are hurting. We have got react now and we have got to show a bit of fight because at the moment, that is the one thing we have got to have.

“The minimum we have got to have is fight. We need to fight for the badge. I expect a reaction on Saturday at home to Kidderminster.”

Roberts’ 11th-minute opener was the first time Spartans had taken the lead in the National League North this season.

And seemingly in control of the early stages at Blackwell Meadows, Stephenson believes Blyth shot themselves in the foot by allowing Darlington to reply immediately. 

As previously mentioned, Stephenson expects a reaction when Kidderminster visit Croft Park this weekend, although admits confidence is unsurprisingly low in the camp. 

“Only they can change it,” he said. “We try our best to prepare them well in training but ultimately when you step on the pitch, you have to go and perform and stick to the gameplan. 

“We did in the early stage tonight but then one or two came off the plan a bit. When that happens, you start creating difficulties. 

“We conceded too quickly after the first goal – we should just be clearing it but instead we shoot ourselves in the foot. 

“Fair play to Darlington, they did react well but as I say, Lee, myself and all the staff were vastly disappointed as we feel they were there for the taking. 

“We just need to keep working with them and try get a few percentages more out of them but it is hard when the confidence is low.”

Posted by Jordan Cronin