HARRY Dunn is adamant his team deserve their place in FA Cup folklore after his Blyth Spartans side came within millimetres of forcing Blackburn Rovers to a third-round replay last night.
Had Andy Wright’s volley crept inside the post with just five minutes remaining, Blyth would have pulled off one of the most remarkable results in the competition’s distinguished history as their Premier League opponents were forced to cling on desperately for their 1-0 victory.
Dunn was delighted with the effort as he urged the club’s supporters to give the players the same legendary status enjoyed by those who were part of the side which memorably reached the Fifth Round of the competition back in 1978.
He said: “We’re disappointed we’re not going to Blackburn for a replay. You don’t get many chances against Premier League sides but unfortunately for Andy, he was the hero a couple of weeks ago, but it just didn’t go in for him tonight.
“I’m extremely proud of the players, it was a terrific performance from everyone concerned. You worry when you go a goal down that the game will run away from you and peter out, but we gave 110% and they were the ones clinging on at the end.
“It’s nice to have written our own chapter in the club’s history. 1978 is always going to mentioned, but I hope in years to come 2009 will be mentioned as
well because these players certainly deserve it.
“The difference between now and then is the opposition. We were playing Premier League opposition. Years ago, for all Blyth did really well, the opposition wasn’t quite so good.
“They still had to beat them, but we have every right to be proud of what we have achieved.”
Although Blackburn had dominated for the majority of the contest, their failure to take their chances meant there were some nervous moments at the end for the visitors and Dunn admitted he had enjoyed seeing Blackburn’s manager, Sam Allardyce, feeling the strain.
He said: “We had them worried and it was nice to see Sam Allardyce on the touchline looking agitated in the last 10 minutes. We gave them an almighty scare and it was a terrific night for the club. That’s the beauty of the FA Cup, it gets everyone’s blood going and this has been a fantastic period for Blyth Spartans.
“We kept it tight for the first hour, but we knew the longer the game went on we were going to get a chance. We learnt that against Bournemouth in the last round.
“Unfortunately we didn’t manage to take it this time. I thought it was in, we were all off the bench celebrating, but it just went the wrong side of the post.”
He was not the only one as Allardyce conceded he thought Blyth had forced an equaliser when Alex Gildea’s cross found Wright completely unmarked in the area.
He said: “My heart was in my mouth because when it came to him I thought all he had to do was side foot it in. We should have had the game wrapped up by then, but we didn’t take our chances and they put us under a lot of pressure at the end.
“Blyth gave absolutely everything and if they can play like that, I really can’t understand why they are in the position they are in in the league. I’m sure they will pull away from the relegation zone with the players they have got.”
He continued: “It was a fantastic cup game and I’m relieved we are not one of the upsets of the round because there have been a few. I would have been slaughtered if we’d lost so I’m relieved we’re in the next round after that. That’s the magic of the Cup and when you get nights like this you can see why the competition is so special. Blyth were superb, they fought for everything, defended really well and they were extremely close to grabbing an equaliser at the end. They should be proud of themselves.”