ABSOLUTELY magnificent against this season’s odds, Blyth Spartans have been challenged to end their league campaign with a first win in six, and go into the Sage Northumberland Senior Cup final on a high.
The Croft Park club end their Blue Square Bet North endeavours at Worcester City today, knowing the eighth or ninth-place finish available to them would constitute a considerable return for the past nine months.
Budget cuts and a small squad as a consequence have curtailed Blyth’s progress, yet an FA Trophy quarter-final and top-10 finish – not to mention a number of occasions when they outperformed the clubs in the “top echelon” – speak highly of the efforts of Mick Tait and his players.
And Tait wants to see his side go into the Senior Cup final – against Newcastle United reserves at St James’ Park on Wednesday, May 11 – on a winning note.
“It’s been difficult for us to compete this year, with not having so many bodies available,” said Tait, who welcomes back Dan Groves (toe) and Robbie Dale (concussion).
“But the lads have been absolutely magnificent and proved over and over again that they’re as good as the top sides in this division on their day.
“We just haven’t been in a position to sustain it. Yes, on our day but over a season? No. We can finish eighth or ninth in the table which is very good given what we’ve had to work with.
“It’s been a case of so close but not being quite ready to leap into that top echelon.”
Tait added: “We drew with Guiseley on Monday, which was nice as we needed to bounce back after last Saturday’s 5-0 defeat at Boston United.
“That was a false scoreline but getting a draw against another team up there around the play-offs showed us in our true light.
“It was nice to get a result that was more like our real selves, although that’s still five games since we’ve won.
“Now it would be nice to get a win to finish the season off on a high, we don’t want it to peter out just because we have nothing to go for.”