Before Saturday’s game the Gloucester City manager David Mehew was quoted as saying that his side would beat visitors Blyth Spartans with a combination of fitness and desire.
His prescience was impressive and Blyth boss Mick Tait, floored by his side’s mournful showing, had to agree although he added more reasons for the 3-1 defeat.
And these he laid firmly at his own door.
With a startling candour Tait said, “I take full responsibility for what happened at the weekend. I’m not going to hide behind any excuses. Yes Gloucester were fit, strong and eager but we showed nothing and I absolutely take the blame for our abysmal showing which was due to my poor team selection and the formation which I played. I was lulled into a false way of thinking after last week’s three points and I’m extremely disappointed with myself.
“ I was thinking through what happened all the way back after the game, and again as soon I opened my eyes on Sunday morning.”
A 300-mile coach trip back north certainly provided a lot of thinking time but Tait was clearly ruminating for the whole weekend, and probably still is.
Supporters who made the trip from the north east and other Blyth exiles who took in the game travelling from across the south of England, including the Isle of Wight, and from South Wales would be sharing the manager’s anguish and Tait recognised this.
“I must apologise to them. They travelled such a long way and were let down.”
Tait’s frankness is welcome but his analysis, concluded with such self-sacrificing recognition, however fails to acknowledge that the Blyth players performed well below their best and are equally as culpable.
Oddly, as it turned out, Tait said that before the game he was in an optimistic mood. The players seemed up for the game and were determined to secure a win.
The opening minutes did bode well for the Spartans as Robbie Dale scored from close range after six minutes but the home side equalised ten minutes later through the lively Morford. A penalty in the second half saw Gloucester go 2-1 up and they added to their lead through Morford again who had powered his way through an insipid Blyth defence.
“We just couldn’t cope with their forwards,” commented Tait.
“ Our defending was shocking, and the rest of our play not much better. We’ve been poor in our last two games – despite winning the previous one. Defence is the one aspect which has been a real concern ever since pre-season. We need to bring in some defenders who are better than those we have already. I’ve been looking but there’s no one out there at the moment. Actually if you look at our league most teams are struggling at the back but do possess good front men.
“Gloucester gave us so many problems in defence causing mayhem with their pace and physical presence and exposing all our deficiencies in that area of the pitch. This in turn disrupted our whole system meaning we couldn’t get the ball down and play the way we like to.”
That said Blyth did have opportunities in the first half which were rashly squandered and when Tait withdrew Dale and Ian Graham with 15 minutes remaining, replacing them with John Alexander and the impressive Simon Todd, Blyth did pick up and were able to press forward with a new assurance but the damage had been done.
Despite the weekend’s trials Tait was nevertheless looking forward to the next Saturday’s FA Cup tie at home to Ossett Albion.
“This is just what we need to pick ourselves up and the spirit of the supporters too. It’s a great competition and everyone knows what it means to the club and the town. I saw Ossett play three times last season and they are a good footballing team. I don’t think anyone can reasonably expect a cup run from us like last year – that only comes round about every 30 years or so but we would still love it to happen. Everyone will be bubbling on Saturday and we intend to enjoy it and just try to stay in the competition as long as we can.”