It has been a cheerless week at Croft Park, Blyth and it will necessitate the true Spartan spirit to emerge once more in order to support the club through troubled waters.
On the back of cuts to players’ wages the team lost away 2-1 at Redditch in a Blue Square Bet North fixture despite playing for most of the game against ten men.
Despite getting off to a good start in Saturday’s game when Blyth ran amok for the first 30 minutes, dominating play, they failed to test the Redditch goalkeeper with any regularity. Just before the interval the visitors were rewarded for their efforts when striker Paul Brayson converted a penalty to give the Spartans the lead. The Redditch keeper was sent off for the foul.
Blyth manager Mick Tait said: “We talked at half time about just seeing the game out. Winning the match was the most important thing.”
However the second half was characterised by Blyth failing to capitalise on chances. The home side came back surprisingly to equalise through Phil Green and then take the lead via a 90th minute penalty by Matthew Smith.
Tait commented: “We were guilty of passing the ball too much in Redditch’s 18 yard box instead of having shots on goal. A bobbly pitch didn’t help either side however and it restricted our passing game plus we found we often needed an extra touch to get the ball under control. But it’s no excuse really because we didn’t make the extra player count, at the end of the day.
“Redditch were just launching balls into our half and we really should have won the game.”
The players were told about the cuts to wages during the week but Tait insisted that, as far as possible, they went in to the game with the right attitude.
“All the right things were said in the dressing room before the game,” he said. “Personal thoughts about the cuts were put to one side but it’s hard to be totally focused especially when things start to go wrong – it’s human nature.”
Tait was upset about reports that he had criticised the supporters suggesting that their views were ‘rubbish’ and that their reaction was ‘out of order’.
“I respect the supporters, they are the lifeblood of any club. I wouldn’t slag them off. I simply said that I couldn’t believe anyone thinking the players don’t try. We do try – not one of the players goes on to the pitch with the attitude of not trying but football is a confidence game and when confidence is low the players stop doing the things they are capable of.”
There is no doubt that everyone associated with the Spartans has a challenge on their hands.
As Tait commented: “Players, supporters and management will all need to stand up and fight our way out of this.”
The club intend to issue a statement after this Monday’s Board meeting.
The Spartans have been in difficulties in the past but belligerence, mettle and spirit have seen them through.
A rallying of supporters allied to a dogged determination and proud showing by the players on Saturday will be a crucial platform from which to start the recovery process.