At the end of the Blyth Spartans game at Marine on Saturday, manager Tom Wade was disappointed only to have collected one point.
However, there were many redeeming features from his side’s showing on Merseyside, specifically the battling qualities and the performances of the younger members of the squad.
“Over the 90 minutes, and with leading then conceding with only a minute to go obviously left me disappointed,” he said.
“Mind you, I’d have taken that before the game.
“The game plan was not to concede. The young lads froze a little for the first 20 minutes and that took their legs away a bit but they came through.
“The game gave them the shock of their lives-playing against quality opposition.
“But I’m over the moon the way they battled through.”
Wade was without Nathan Buddle who was playing in a trial game for Luton on the Saturday morning, and midfielder Craig Hubbard, whose wife went in to labour on Friday night.
“We missed Hubbard, who would have been a driving force in the middle of the park,” said Wade.
“But having said that Matty Wade and Neal Hooks showed on Saturday that they too can mix it up.
“Neither side had much in midfield really. Marine went from back to front very quickly but the good thing for us is that we were physical, our set plays were exceptional and we defended as a team.
“We had fire in our bellies and we now need confidence to drive on.”
Wade’s pre-match gamble paid off. Playing young Ryan Cummings at right back in the season opener was, in Wade’s words ‘a big gamble’, Cummings only having played in that position for Blyth briefly in pre-season.
Wade said: “Colin Myers knows Ryan well and what he is capable of from Bishop Auckland, so we decided to give him a run out.
“He had a very good game. He kept going and got stuck in.”
Leading the game after Joe Kendrick’s 26th minute penalty and then to concede at the death was a big blow.
“Danny Parker’s tackle was that of a tired man. It was mistimed and it was a shame because overall he had been very good.”
Marine’s Andy Fowler converted the penalty.
One of the main reasons Blyth were in a position of being so close to taking all three points was the outstanding display by goalkeeper Conor Grant.
Wade was quick to praise Grant and the club’s new goalkeeping coach.
“Conor looked like a seasoned keeper out there on Saturday. He has come on really well under John Bottensien.”
For Tuesday’s home game with Trafford, the Blyth boss hopes to have Buddle and Hubbard available plus Arran Wearmouth, who has signed from Bishop Auckland but who has been waiting for FA clearance in terms of his contract with the County Durham-based club.