REFRESHED by the respite of a fortnight’s lay-off, Blyth Spartans have been challenged to end a season spent defying the odds with the tangible reward of a place high up in the final table.
The Croft Park club travel to Boston United today, then entertain Guiseley on Monday.
And having had his budget cut earlier in the campaign, manager Mick Tait believes a top-eight finish would be a fitting reward for his players. “Most of the lads are just about fit again, but Chris Swailes is still struggling with a thigh injury so we’ll have to be careful with him, with two games in three days,” said Tait, who otherwise welcomes back Dan Lowson (groin), Neal Hooks (ankle) and Liam O’Mahoney (flu).
“That’s a situation we’ll have to manage because we can’t do without two centre-backs for the two games, and we have to look after Wayne Buchanan and Alan White as well.
“It’s been strange to have a break at this stage of the season, although a backlog now would have killed us. We’ve got three league games left to play and we’d like to finish the season as high in the table as we can.
“A couple of poor results lately haven’t helped but considering we haven’t had all that many players available I think we’ve done very well.
“We have the Sage Northumberland Senior Cup final against Newcastle United reserves at the end of the season and we want to go into that in form.
“The lads have to use the last three league games to play their way into a guaranteed place in the starting line up for the cup final.
“And they also want to make sure the season doesn’t tail off because they have personal pride in themselves and their performances.
“They want to be able to point to the league table at the end of the season and say ‘Look what we’ve achieved this year’.
“It’s tangible reward for their efforts, and something to aim for and better next season.
“Boston and Guiseley will be two really tough games. They’re both competing for a place in the play-offs, and fighting for points there.
“It’s going to be tough but we’re more than capable of getting results against both if we play to our maximum.”