AFTER watching his side earn a replay with a gritty display in the FA cup fourth qualifying round match at Droylsden on Saturday, Blyth Spartans manager Steve Cuggy is looking to make home advantage count on Tuesday night at Croft Park.
Speaking after Saturday’s game Cuggy said: “I’m just telling the players to be positive.
“The tie isn’t over by any stretch of the imagination but with the crowd behind us at home on Tuesday it will be a big boost,” he added.
Blyth showed a strong desire and fighting spirit at the Butchers Arms Ground on Saturday which had eluded them in the previous weekend’s debacle at Gloucester City and Cuggy attributes the stark contrast in performances to a different approach to training and some strong words from himself during the week.
“In training the lads have done a bit of boxercise and circuit training with our sports scientist Anna Willkie and we purposefully made it light hearted because from a psychological point of view we thought it might be good to do something a bit different,” said Cuggy.
“I had a conversation with a few individuals which I thought was necessary to be honest and they all took it in the right way and have went out and reacted well.”
Despite the 0-0 score-line it was a riveting cup tie with Droylsden landing more shots but Blyth constantly jabbing away at the home defence and almost making late pressure tell.
Lack of conviction in the final third let the visitors down on occasions and at the other end Cuggy had David Knight to thank as his side kept a clean sheet for the first time in seven games.
Cuggy said: “The difference between us drawing and winning the game was that we lacked belief and confidence and that’s down to recent results.
“David Knight was superb, he made about five excellent saves and he got man of the match and rightfully so but everybody played their part.”
He added: “The clean sheet is something to build on and should give the lads at the back some confidence.”
Cuggy fielded a new strike force on Saturday with debutant Jamie Mole partnering Richard Offiong up front.
The Blyth manager was extremely pleased with the performance of his new signing.
“He did very well and hasn’t played for a while which makes it very encouraging,” said Cuggy
“He’s a proper centre forward who doesn’t give defenders any time at all and he looks to get in the box and score goals and I couldn’t ask for any more from him.”
Spartans were roared on by vociferous travelling support who gave their side a rousing reception on full-time, with Cuggy commenting: “The fans were brilliant.
“They outnumbered the home support which is absolutely fantastic and it really means a lot to me and Gav and the rest of the lads when they go home happy.”
Cuggy will have Wayne Phillips available for selection on Tuesday night after the player served a four match ban for a straight red card.
Phillips was subject to an exchange bid from Whitley Bay two weeks ago which was rejected by the Blyth manager, who says the talented midfielder is a big part of his and Gavin Fell’s plans.
Speaking about Phillips, Cuggy said: “He’s been flying in training and me and Gavin have got a lot of faith in him and believe he can be a match winner and that’s why we turned an offer from Whitley Bay down.
Cuggy added: “They offered us a young player we rate very highly in exchange and we have looked into that but we will not be letting Wayne leave the club.”
If Blyth are to get through the replay against Droyldsen at Croft Park they will face local rivals Gateshead at home in the first round proper of the FA cup, and while Cuggy admits that Sunday’s draw has given his side a ‘massive incentive’ to get through he remains determined to keep his players focused on Tuesday night’s game.
Cuggy said: “It’s a massive incentive for us but it means nothing if we don’t win on Tuesday so it’s about getting the players ready for the Droylsden game and not looking beyond that at this point.”