IN Saturday afternoon’s humid conditions Blyth Spartans were found wanting and wilting at Witton.
And the sweltering circumstances did nothing for a tepid game, which was reflected in the performance.
“In the first half we were ordinary and in the second we were very poor,” was manager Tommy Cassidy’s honest analysis.
“We showed exactly what we lack as a team – guile, experience and a leader in the middle of the pitch.
“It stood out a mile. We need an experienced 28 to 30-year-old head who has been around.
“I talked to over 20 players in the close season but I’m competing with numerous local clubs for the best and at the moment we are struggling to meet players’ wage demands.”
Conceding in the tenth minute Blyth were on the back foot but Robbie Dale’s 100th goal for the club drew the visitors level.
Cassidy was furious at going behind but praised Dale’s contribution.
“Witton’s opener was just too easy,” he said.
“Shaun Tuck was allowed to turn inside and run 15 yards before shooting with no one coming out to close him down.
“But it was good to see Robbie so lively.
“He was the only threat we had and his delightful looping goal was exactly him.
“When he does what he’s good at, when he’s on his day, he’s great.
“However, it needs to be ‘his day’ every match. His consistency needs to be better.”
The second period belonged to Witton with the Spartans having to defend, at times desperately.
Cassidy added: “Our midfield put in some good effort but they need to be more savvy about the game. In the heat we ran out of legs through some niave running.”
Former Newcastle forward Phil Airey was replaced by Scott Blandford with 25 minutes remaining with Cassidy explaining that Airey was not fully fit.
He also commended central defenders Wayne Buchanan and Carl Jones for their solid contributions.
Jones was clearly struggling with a shoulder injury from pre-season but competed valiantly.
With the game in added time Witton were awarded a penalty which was converted by Anthony Gardner. It proved to be the decisive goal.
“I didn’t quite see the penalty incident,” said Cassidy.
“But we didn’t help ourselves by losing the ball and allowing Witton to get in to the box.
“I suppose I must try and take it as a positive that it took a last ditch penalty to beat us.”