BLYTH Spartans FC manager Mick Tait was too modest to say, but the return to the side of his son, Michael, proved the midfielder to be the vital cog in his side’s renaissance on Saturday.
Spartans secured an admirable 1-0 victory over top of the table Nuneaton and Tait junior, back after a hamstring injury, was authoritative and influential.
Boss Tait, however, was pleased with all his charges.
“I was delighted with them all as well as the performance,” he said.
“I was especially pleased with us in the first half when we had most of the ball.
“The possession we had limited Nuneaton to very few opportunities.
“The bobbly pitch made control of the ball difficult, particularly for a side which likes to play on the ground as we do, but I think we did alright.”
A goal within a minute of the restart proved an unexpected but welcome bonus for the hosts.
Tait added: “I’d said at the interval that if we gave another five or ten per cent we could win the game, so when we went one up immediately we could then hold on and not chase the game.
“It was an excellent time to score and made all the difference for us.”
Tait admitted the second half was a bit more scrappy than the first but Nuneaton showed little until a late rally, although Blyth could have scored again.
Two features were prominent in Blyth’s performance, which Tait described: “We don’t have a front man to hold the ball up so we need to play our passing game as much as possible – and we can do it very effectively.
“But sometimes we do need just to lump it forward, as we had to do towards the end on Saturday, but it was clear that when we do that the ball just comes straight back to put pressure on our defence.”
The other distinguishing trait was Blyth’s crossing of the ball, which showed a new quality despite the unpredictable bounce.
“We’d talked about this recently,” said Tait.
“We got some great balls in at the weekend in both halves and we scored the goal after one when Michael [Tait] whipped the ball in for Nicky Deverdics to put pressure on Nuneaton’s Gareth Dean, who could only slice the ball into his own net.
“We don’t have big men in the box so we tried to get crosses into dangerous areas between the defenders and the goalkeeper.
“I thought we did this well and caused them problems.”
Man of the match central defender Alan White put in a sturdy showing despite carrying an injury which Tait said should really have kept him out of the team.
Young right back Dan Groves certainly challenged White for the individual honour with another eye-catching game which combined defensive strength with attacking flair.
Meanwhile Tait was sympathetic towards leading scorer Paul Brayson’s quiet few weeks.
“Brassie has not been firing on all cylinders,” he said.
“But he has a lean spell in every season and he’ll come good again.
“Everyone gets a bit nervous or frustrated in certain situations. At the moment when he gets a chance he might take a bit longer over it, but you see this with lots of players.”
Returning to Michael Tait’s influence, the Blyth manager suggested: “We don’t function the same without him as we don’t have a natural replacement.
“Also, when he plays other players around him perform better.”
n Match report –page 79