On a blustery day at Croft Park, Blyth Spartans manager Tom Wade praised his side’s performance after a battling win over Skelmersdale United.
The visitors are right in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League title race, and for the second time this season left Northumberland empty handed.
However, unlike October’s 6-0 FA Trophy hammering, Spartans were made to fight all the way, and Wade pointed to a brave double stop from goalkeeper Conor Grant as a sign of what it means for his players to play for the club.
He said: “The commitment and the effort was superb, and even from the start of the game we looked stronger.
“In the last few minutes we were under pressure and the double block and save from Conor Grant summed it all up for me.
“We were too deep at the time but the lads put their bodies on the line.”
Striker Dan Maguire notched his 22nd goal of the season with the winner against United, and Wade paid tribute to the former Seaton Delaval front man.
“Maguire was giving a tough time by a strong visiting defence, but Wade felt his performance showed that the youngster is maturing and improving after an impressive season,” he said.
“Maguire got pulled all over the place but got nothing from the referee.
“He was a little lad against two big defenders and if we are honest he has tortured them.
“He’s maturing all the time and that showed when he did the intelligent thing and carried the ball into the corner to run the clock down rather than going for goal.”
“He is only going to get better.”
The win kept Spartans within touching distance of the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League play-off places, although they are relying on other teams slipping up.
With nine league games and a Northumberland Senior Cup semi-final against Ashington to look forward to, Wade is positive that his side can finish the season in style.
He said: “It’s a huge win and it means we have beaten the top two sides in the league at home and drew against the third placed team and we have outplayed all three of them.”
“We need to carry that form into our away games and there is no reason why we can’t.
“What we have achieved this season is beyond everyone’s expectations.
“We have a good run in and a cup semi-final to look forward to, so whatever we do from now on is a big bonus.”