Following a week of James Bond celebrations and fervour including the 50th anniversary of the first Bond film –Dr. No, Blyth Spartans referenced the mood on Saturday at Croft Park not, sadly, with Pussy Galore but with goals galore.
Strip away the six goals however and this wasn’t a blockbuster of a game although it did see Blyth picking up a very handy three points.
Spartans manager Paddy Atkinson was both relieved and pleased.
“I was particularly satisfied with the application of the players especially in the first 35 minutes leading up to our opening goal when we were by far the better team,” he said. “We could actually have scored two or three times before Lee Mason’s goal. I was pleased with the way we started and finished the game. In previous matches we’ve either had a good first half and a bad second or the reverse so we need to try and close the consistency gap and I thought, on Saturday, that there was progress in that regard.”
He continued:” We also had the benefit of a stronger bench than of late so we could replace tiring players better than previously.”
Luke Hinsley rifled home a shot past Grant in the Blyth goal and conceding within a minute of going ahead after 38 minutes left Atkinson frustrated.
“We lost the ball through two of our more experienced players making a mistake. I told them at half time that they owed the team a goal to make up for it. It was a silly error and so infuriating after we had worked so hard to take the lead.”
The Blyth boss saw an immediate reaction when his side started the second period with increased determination. Within 20 minutes of the restart Atkinson replaced defenders Darryl Donnelly and Joe Kendrick with Carl Jones and Phil Airey respectively.
“Both Donnelly and Kendrick were tiring plus Joe had picked up a calf problem,” said Atkinson. “Some others were tiring too and fitness for a lot of the players will be a focus for the next few weeks. We have to have players who are 100% fit on the pitch not 70% or 80% which has been the case a few times.”
Goals from Ryan McGorrigan and former Newcastle forward Airey (2) within five minutes put the home side 4-1 up with four minutes left to play.
McGorrigan’s goal came from following up a Robbie Dale penalty which Woodhead in the Frickley goal had parried.
The decision to award the penalty looked harsh on the Yorkshire side but as Atkinson said last week some decisions don’t go your way but others do.
Atkinson was delighted with Airey’s contribution but is looking to the youngster to give more.
“Phil’s has been out for three weeks and was frustrated not to start the game but I told him he couldn’t expect to come straight back after not training. He has great ability and is a great goal scorer and I told him if he can get his fitness right he can go on and play in the Football League. He needs to put in 90 minute stints and influence the game more, but he has it in him.”
The visitors pulled a goal back in added time through Jason Yates.
Atkinson confirmed that he is still on the look out to add to his squad and hopes to have some new faces in this coming week. Striker Craig Farrell will be back for Blyth’s Wednesday evening game at Worksop.
Saturday’s three points won’t have Atkinson reaching for the Martinis, shaken or otherwise, but he will hoping his side can go on to scare the living daylights out of Worksop midweek.