An emotionally drained Spartans manager Tom Wade spoke following his side’s sensational FA Cup tie at Leek Town which saw Blyth come out on top 4-3.
“I’ve never seen a game as intense as that,” he said. “It was a great football match for the neutral but a different story for a manager!”
The visitors went into half time trailing 2-0.
Wade said: “We were very poor before the break. I’m not trying to make excuses but we had a long journey down and we arrived late. The warm up was poor and we never got going in the game at all. The fact that we were still in with a shout at the interval was down to our keeper Peter Jeffries. He was my Man of the Match purely on what he produced in the first half. He was absolutely colossal and we would have been four or five down at the break without him.”
After the resumption the Spartans were transformed from tame mice to roaring lions.
Two goals from midfielders Neal Hooks and Stephen Turnbull in the first five minutes totally changed the balance of the tie. Captain Robbie Dale then put the Spartans ahead from the penalty spot and Jarrett Rivers made it 4-2 after 75 minutes with a breathtaking shot.
“Colin [Myers] and I had a real go at the players at half time,” said Wade.
“ Voices were raised as the lads got a real kick in the pants but we all calmed down before we went back out. Basically they had to go out there and play for the shirt, each other and for pride. They did just that.
“We started like a house on fire with Robbie and Nipa [Daniel Maguire] finding space and causing Leek problems. The front three, Jarrett included, did really well. Jarrett’s strike was fantastic. No keeper could have got to it and I think it was the turning point in the match.”
Wade also praised his central defenders Ryan Hutchinson, who dropped back from his usual midfield slot, and the returning Danny Parker.
“Young Ryan did well in a hard game and Danny, who hasn’t played for seven or eight weeks after breaking his jaw, was outstanding in those circumstances. The bottle he showed was unbelievable.”
Leek were awarded a penalty immediately after Rivers’ goal which Andrew Kinsey lashed home.
At the end of six added minutes Leek were awarded another penalty, which Wade had no qualms with. Kinsey hit the ball over the bar to the unmitigated relief of Spartans players and supporters alike.
Wade commented; “I said to Colin that I thought Kinsey would sky it. His first one was hit high in to the roof of the net so I thought that if that was the way he took his penalties there was a good chance of him hitting his effort over the top. Either way we deserved to win the game.”
The miss sparked scenes among the travelling away support reminiscent of the first rehearsal of a very poor production of ‘Riverdance’. Jigs, jumps and reels were all in evidence – plus a multitude of badly executed variations.
Joy and magic were in the air.
Wade praised the fans.
“The support we get away from home is awesome. They stick with us through thick and thin! We’d like to thank them all”