It was never likely to be a game characterised by stylish play or full of individual brilliance – and it certainly wasn’t.
Blyth lost two nil against Burscough at the weekend with the Spartans lying third off bottom of the Blue Square North and their visitors one place below them. A scrappy affair was expected and that indeed came to fruition. Actually ’scrappy’ makes it sound better than it was. ‘Dire’ might be a more appropriate term.
Blyth manager Harry Dunn indeed took a much stronger line in an unprecedented vitriolic attack on his side’s performance.
“That was a shameful display from us!” he stormed. “We were embarrassing, disgraceful and without passion. We showed nothing at all, no bottle and no appetite for the game.”
The usually temperate Dunn did nothing to conceal his unbridled shock and despair.
“That was as bad as anything from my side since I came to the club. Some players were hiding and they should all take a long hard look at themselves. There was an announcement about the Man of the Match – well I don’t know how anyone could have come up with a Man of the Match. If I’d had my say and given my players merit marks I would have given one or two of them 2 out of 10, the majority 1 out of 10 and some 0 out of 10!
” I couldn’t blame Paul Farman in goal for the defeat but none of them could complain if they weren’t playing in our match at Fleetwood Town on Tuesday.
“Burscough were very poor but were mainly 19 and 20 year olds. But we couldn’t even use that to our advantage. It should have been ‘men against boys’ but it was more ‘boys against bairns’.
Dunn, on the day after the debacle, was still a festering cauldron of despair and anger but with a fiery ingredient of determination added to the mix.
“I feel totally dispirited. We’re all in this game because we enjoy it – we love it. But things like this just make you think about what the point is. Why do we bother?”
However he promised stern and uncompromising action.
“I might have to upset a few players by making some changes but I’m not prepared for us to lose our Blue Square North Status. We’ve done the hard work in raising funds via the FA Cup run and I’m not going to let that momentum slip.
“The players may not realise our precarious position, but I do!
” I’ll not hesitate to replace them if that’s what it takes.”
In the game Blyth looked shaky at the back, the midfield lacked both the bite and the wherewithal to create chances and the forwards, although working hard at times, lacked the ability to pose any consistent threat. Burscough, for their part, were just about as anonymous although their front men did have a degree of pace and willingness to run at the Spartans back four – as witnessed by the character of both of their goals, albeit aided and abetted by risible defending.
The visitors went in two nil at the break courtesy of goals from Davis and Parry and thereafter withstood what little threat Blyth could muster with some ease.
Dunn hopes to have authoritative midfielders Alex Gildea and Chris McCabe back to take part in at least some of Tuesday’s game at Fleetwood while striker Marc Walton may have recovered from injury to play for Blyth at Alfreton at the weekend. Goalkeeper Mark Bell, who broke a finger in training, will be out for a couple of weeks.
The question is – where has the sheer chutzpah of the performance against Shrewsbury, the bravado from the Bournemouth games and the belligerence of the Blackburn display all gone?
Wherever they are they need to be rounded up and brought back into active service on the front line pretty sharpish if Blyth Spartans aren’t going to face a serious relegation battle.