On Easter Saturday Blyth striker Anthony Shandran pulled a rabbit out of the hat deftly turning the Workington defence before looking up and stroking the ball home with consummate ease. The goal gave Blyth three points against their Cumbrian hosts – their first away win in eight attempts.
Considering last Thursday’s woeful performance at home to Droylsden, which the Spartans lost 2-0, Saturday’s single goal victory was somewhat surprising but nevertheless absolutely deserved.
Asked the following morning how he was feeling Blyth manager Harry Dunn retorted “A lot better than yesterday before the match!”
The pressure was on Blyth to pick up points following several very disappointing results as they struggle to avoid relegation and they reacted superbly. Dunn however was not resting on his laurels.
“We’ve eased the pressure with that win but that’s all. It’s given us a four point cushion over the third off bottom club but we need to be sure we maintain or increase that gap.”
“ I thought we did very well at Workington. It was our fourth game in a week so it was never going to be easy but we thoroughly deserved to win although I’ve got to say I was relieved when the final whistle went. With the breeze at our backs and the sun in our favour we got about them, stopped them from playing and created chances. In fact the score should really have been more convincing especially when we had a clear cut penalty appeal turned down when Chris McCabe was fouled in the box.”
From Blyth’s point of view the contrast with the Droylsden game could not have been greater even bearing in mind that Saturday’s opposition were less able. Blyth were determined, quick to the ball, defended within themselves and pushed forward with accurate passing and trickery. Robbie Dale excelled on the left of the front three. He is a player who can be sadly effete or superbly effective. Against Workington he delivered the kind of performance which clearly unnerves opposition defences. Midfielder Adrian Webster, who struggled to influence the game against Droylsden, never stopped running and dictating play on Saturday. To highlight only two Blyth players would however be churlish. This was an all round composed and determined effort.
Shandran’s goal, his first for the club, came on 53 minutes following a well-weighted pass from Gary Brown who had broken from midfield.
“Anthony took it really well and I think he’ll now go on to score more goals for us suggested Dunn. “In fact it was one of the few highlights of the game. All the matches are scrappy at this stage of the season with most clubs either fighting for promotion or striving to avoid relegation. Every game seems to be a nervy affair with the players, spectators and managers all feeling the strain.”
Workington manager Darren Edmondson was no exception.
“It was all set for a good day but we just never turned up. I’ve had a few choice words with the lads because one or two of them were cruising today and that’s not on.”
Harry Dunn hopes that influential centre back Richard Pell will return for Easter Monday’s home game against Farsley Celtic but winger Stuart Banks, on for Shaun Reay in the second half, will miss the rest of the season after suffering an ankle injury after chasing down home goalkeeper Adam Collin then turning awkwardly.
Dunn reckons that his side needs at least four more points from the four remaining fixtures to be safe and every effort is going into achieving just that.
“The lads didn’t have drink on Saturday night. I’ve asked them to keep of it over the whole weekend. They realise the position the club is in, we’re still in dire straits, and we need to keep focussed.
“Everyone must be prepared to take responsibility for our future!”
In the climax of the battle to remain in the Blue Square North, and to paraphrase Horatio Nelson – Dunn expects that every Spartan will do his duty.