Blyth Spartans enjoy gentler week

FOR the first time in quite a while, Blyth Spartans had a “really good week”.

FOR the first time in quite a while, Blyth Spartans had a “really good week”.

Tommy Cassidy, hoping it gets even better today, rewarded his players with a steam and a soak.

But having generated a fraction of illumination amid the dingiest of tunnels, and hope of a greater escape than in, under Harry Dunn, 2005, 2008 and 2009, the Spartans manager is urging caution, and warding off complacency.

That much may be the easy part. Blyth remain rooted in bother, second-bottom of Blue Square Bet North, 11 points from a position of safety with as many league games still to play.

Deep, deep trouble. Yet successive wins this week at Colwyn Bay and at home to Histon, allied with the return of the talismanic Robbie Dale, have raised hope of resisting relegation.

Hence, and with seven nursing knocks, Thursday’s usual training was replaced by a gym and swim session at the Village Hotel, near Shiremoor.

“We’re like Manchester United!” joked Cassidy, but he is not getting carried away.

Back-to-back victories are a godsend, he says, and make this afternoon’s Croft Park clash with basement club Eastwood Town the archetypal survival six-pointer.

Nine out of nine in eight days would be better still, but no one, Cassidy implores, fans included – and he urges Northumberland to show its support today – can rest on their laurels.

“It’s been a really good week for us,” said Cassidy.

“But I don’t want everyone getting carried away. People think that just because we’ve won a couple of games, it’s easy.

“It doesn’t work like that, we can’t rest on our laurels.

“We’ve collected six points, which is brilliant, but it’s not nearly enough.

“We need a lot more and three on Saturday would go a long way, and give us a little bit more light at the end of the tunnel. What we have to do now is make sure we don’t get complacent. It’s still going to be a grind, on Saturday and to the end of the season.

“But we’re up for it and I hope the fans are too. We’ve given ourselves a chance and we need them right behind us between now and the end of the season.”

The re-signing of Dale ought to help.

The 27-year-old remains a cult hero at Croft Park, having scored 96 goals in 291 appearances for Blyth, and turned down at least one proposed move to bitter rivals Gateshead. Somewhat surprisingly, he was released last summer by former boss Steve Cuggy, and promptly joined Northern League side Whitley Bay.

But following the end of the Seahorses’ record-breaking FA Vase odyssey, Ian Chandler has allowed Dale to rejoin the Spartans on an initial month’s loan.

And Cassidy hopes his return can fuel Blyth with an “extra lift and impetus”.

“I’m pleased we’ve managed to get Robbie in,” Cassidy said.

“I don’t know a great deal about him, other than what I saw when I was manager of Workington, in the games that he faced us, but I know the affection in which he is held by the Blyth fans. The deal is initially for a month and we’ll see how it goes.

“Phil Bannister picked up a bit of knock on Tuesday night and I don’t want to be left short of options, particularly with crucial games coming up, and I hope Robbie can give us an extra lift and impetus. The atmosphere at the Histon game was fantastic and the lads are going to need all the support that they can get for the rest of the season.

“The couple of wins in the last two games and Robbie’s return should see another excellent atmosphere.”


David Whetstone
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