Blyth Spartans won their first game of the season on Saturday with a team which reflected the quiet revolution which has taken place at Croft Park since the arrival of new manager Mick Tait in the summer.
Only three of the outfield players who started the home game with Redditch United were regulars last season. Favouring a mixed passing game of long and short play Blyth are looking every bit an increasingly well-drilled and confident outfit.
The first two games of the current campaign were characterised by controlled short passing and good movement but on Saturday Tait slightly altered the pattern.
“I brought in Simon Todd for his first start of the season” he said. “Simon has the longest passing range of anyone at the club and I wanted him to use this to try and get John Alexander in against their defence up front. Unfortunately it didn’t prove as effective as I’d hoped because Redditch changed their formation and swamped midfield which meant Simon’s play was a little bit suffocated.”
Nevertheless Tait was pleased by the win.
“It’s always good to get your first win which we had to do without Robbie Dale. Robbie wasn’t fully fit and flitted in and out of the Southport game on Tuesday. I needed 11 fully fit players on the pitch at the weekend so Robbie had to miss out.”
Dale will have a scan on his troublesome knee this week.
In a curiously quiet first 30 minutes the home side just had the edge over their Birmingham-based visitors and with the bustling John Alexander going close on two occasions while midfielder Michael Tait saw his header hit the cross bar.
The same player was instrumental in Blyth’s decisive goal scored in the 68th minute.
Captain Gareth Williams played a superb 30-yard ball to Tait on Blyth’s left flank. Tait then crossed for the smallest player on the pitch, Ian Graham, to somehow get between two Redditch defenders and head home into the bottom corner of the net.
Concerned that about the possibility of conceding the lead Tait brought on youngster Josh Gillies.
“Josh is a very very good player “he said. “He’s been up at Motherwell last week on trial and is waiting to hear back from them. From the lad’s point of view it would be great for him to get a deal there but I would dearly love to keep him at Blyth.
I wanted Josh to get on to the ball and push on so we weren’t in danger of sitting back.”
Gillies took up a position behind the front two – only one of the positions Tait thinks he can play.
“He was outstanding in that role in our pre-season friendlies in Scotland” he suggested “but he is also dangerous on the left wing. “
The win sees Blyth in 12th position in the league with games at Farsley Celtic on Tuesday and at home to Corby, who have won all three of their games so far, next Saturday.
Corby could include ex-Darlington and Rushden central defender Chris Hope who Tait had hoped to sign for the Spartans in the close season but who chose to remain in the south.
With defender Darren Craddock back for holiday this week, and available for the first time this season, Tait will need to make a decision as to whether someone makes way for the former York City player, and if so who.
The possible introduction of yet another new player would see the Tait turnaround continue apace.