BLYTH Spartans FC manager Steve Cuggy praised his side’s spirit and determination following their 3-3 draw with Harrogate Town on Bank Holiday Monday.
After a disappointing week for Cuggy with defeats away to Guiseley on Tuesday night, 5-0, and Gainsborough Trinity on Saturday, 2-0, Blyth managed to stop the rot with a hard-fought draw at Croft Park.
Cuggy said: “I’ve had a horrible weekend, to be honest, but I was really hopeful that we would turn it around today and I think all the lads felt the same.
“We’ve shown yet again that we’ve got massive character.
“I accept that we are naive but a lot of our players are on a learning curve and we showed some really encouraging signs today.
“There was no way we were going to lose that game today, no matter what went against us.”
And plenty did go against them.
Wayne Phillips was dismissed for a second bookable offence which looked nothing more than handbags when tangling with Harrogate’s Ian Ross on 58 minutes.
Before this, Simon Weaver was fortunate not to see his side reduced to ten men following a reckless challenge by goalkeeper Mark Cook on Blyth’s Graeme Armstrong, with the striker through on goal and approaching the area.
With 15 minutes remaining Harrogate again rode their luck when former Blyth player Richard Pell got away with a booking after scything down Armstrong, who would have had a clear run on goal.
Cuggy added: “I had a chat with the referee after the game and it was all very amicable.
“I put my point across that I thought Pell had made his mistake and then realised Graeme was going to get the ball and then blatantly stopped him from getting there.”
On top of this, there were injuries to goalkeeper Matt Hunter and two strikers in the shape of Phil Banister and Glen Taylor – who was taken to hospital with a suspected broken metatarsal.
Cuggy was once again disappointed at falling behind for the sixth game in a row but pleased at the way his side fought back and believes that Blyth would have went on to win the game if Phillips had remained on the pitch.
He said: “We haven’t started games as quickly as I would like us to.
“For their first two goals we didn’t make a big enough effort to stop the cross coming in and then we haven’t attacked the cross.
“If it stays at 11 against 11 I think we go on and win that game.
“We had some really good spells of possession and before Wayne got sent off we were really getting a stranglehold on the game.
“Our balls in to the box were causing a lot of problems for them.
“We kept our heads, we kept going and got our reward in the end and we’re now moving in the right direction.”