Spartans caretaker manager Paddy Atkinson puts his side’s gradual but perceptible improvement since he took over down to two factors – fitness and spirit.
“Just look at the lads on the team coach on the trip to and from Grantham on Saturday,” he said. “There’s better interaction between players and staff than previously. You can feel a better bonding. On top of that the last ten minutes of Saturday’s game saw us push on as result of good training during the week.”
The late push saw Blyth grab a deserved equaliser but instead of getting one point from the fixture the happy team coach could have been heading back north even happier.
An undistinguished first half saw the hosts go in one nil up after a defensive lapse in the Blyth defence.
Atkinson replaced forward Phil Airey with left back Joe Kendrick at the restart.
“One or two players didn’t do what they were asked to do, position wise, in the first half,” he said. “We were caught offside too often. I took Phil off, not because of his, or Ryan McGorrigan’s performance, but because I needed to change the shape of the team and we’d spotted a weakness in Grantham’s game which we needed to exploit. Plus it meant we could play Joe in his natural position and move Damon Mullen further up the pitch.”
This change would result in Mullen being in a position to score the equaliser five minutes from time.
Atkinson was delighted with his side’s goal early in the second half which drew the teams level.
“Ryan has a great touch and he showed it with a really impressive lob over the Grantham keeper. The goal gave us a lift and it showed in our second half performance,” he commented.
“But we gave them a second goal after the ball wasn’t cleared in our box and fell for Potts to head home. We actually should have been 3-1 up at that stage! We deserved to equalise through Damon and in the last ten minutes we were opening them up quite easily.
“Overall I thought five or six of our players had good games but the aim is to get that number up to 11, 12 or 13. It was a good point on Saturday away from home but the question now is can we get three points from home games?”
It’s a question which will be answered, for the first time at least, next weekend when Eastwood Town visit Croft Park.
Before that though Blyth entertain Whitley Bay in the Northumberland Senior Cup quarter final on Tuesday evening.
“The Whitley game will be a nice distraction from the League,” said Atkinson. “Each team will have players who have played for the other side. The 11 I pick will certainly have to give a good account of themselves but our bench is looking stronger now.”
The Blyth boss is still looking to improve his squad.
“There is still some wheeling and dealing to be done but I’m on the lookout for two wide players and a left back.”