Neal Hooks was left bemoaning Blyth Spartans’ lack of luck in front of goal – after their frustrating 1-0 defeat at Frickley Athletic on Tuesday.
Tom Wade’s much-changed side looked set to right the wrongs of their Emirates FA Cup defeat to FA Vase holders Morpeth Town on Saturday with a much-improved performance at Westfield Lane.
Daniel Maguire smashed a shot off the crossbar and Sean Reid was only denied by Sebastien Malkowski’s instinctive stop, but it was the home side that were all smiles at full-time – after captain Rhys Meynell nodded home in the 86th minute to stun Spartans in their Evo-Stik Premier League clash.
And Blyth’s assistant manager couldn’t help but curse his side’s luck, but he was encouraged with the way they played despite the defeat.
Hooks said: “It’s fair to say that it was a smash-and-grab for them. We were very unfortunate and anyone watching the game could see that we had about 15 or 16 chances but the ball just wouldn’t fall.
“We’ve hit the bar, the keeper’s managed to pull off a great save from three yards from Sean Reid and Alex has had a great chance at the end, but we just didn’t get any sort of luck tonight.
“Our performance was great, the lads were brilliant and our work-rate was there. It was a massive turnaround from the Morpeth defeat and, sometimes, you just need that little bit of luck.
“We didn’t get it and then we got suckerpunched at the end.”
Even though Blyth were unable to get back to winning ways in West Yorkshire, Hooks has seen enough of a response from the Spartans squad to suggest that they can claim all three points at Corby Town on Saturday.
Hooks said: “It was hard to watch them celebrate the winner so late on. It’ll have affected the lads psychologically, but there’s a lot of positives to take out of our performance.
“I think any Spartans fan or committee member in the ground watching would have seen that we were the better side and were very unfortunate not to come away with the three points. That’s football though and it knows how to kick you when you’re down.
“We’re back on the road on Saturday at Corby though so, hopefully, we can turn it around and work on those positives from Tuesday night. Other results didn’t go our way either, so getting back to the top of the table gives us something to aim for now.”
The Blyth management team opted to make six changes to the side that was knocked out of this season’s Emirates FA Cup; with Luke Armstrong, Jarrett Rivers, Peter Jeffries and Nathan Buddle among those named in the starting line-up. And Hooks had nothing but praise for all of the players that featured at Frickley, in spite of their late loss.
He added: “It was nice to see Luke get a run out. He looked very positive when he came on against Morpeth and I thought he was excellent in his first start.
“Jarrett obviously came back from injury. I’ve heard rumours that he’s off to Darlington, but that’s simply not true.
“He’d declared himself unfit for the few weeks, but said he was fine before the game. We put him in to get a run out as well and he was excellent.
“I don’t think anyone didn’t perform out there. I thought all of the lads were brilliant.”