AFTER watching his side seal their place in the last 16 of the Doodson Sports Cup with an epic 5-3 win over Stocksbridge Park Steels, Spartans manager Paddy Atkinson revealed his pride at seeing the team spirit on show from his players.
Despite seeing a 2-1 lead overturned in the space of three second half minutes, Spartans snatched a late equaliser that took the tie into extra time before finally running out comfortable winner during the additional half hour.
Atkinson said: “It’s typical Blyth Spartans isn’t it, there were plenty of goals and it’s just nice to get a second win in a row.
“It’s a good confidence boost for the lads and their keeper has really stopped it being a more comfortable win for us.
“Even when they took the lead I was always confident we would get back into it because there’s a genuine team spirit here and the lads saw it through.”
Following Saturday’s Evo-Stik Northern Premier League win over Matlock Town, Atkinson took the opportunity to take a look a some players who have not had as much time on the pitch as they would have liked.
The likes of Jack Stanger and Darryll Donnelly came into the line-up and Atkinson was pleased to have had the chance to give them a run out.
He said: “Tonight gave me a chance to take a look at some lads who haven’t played much recently for one reason or another, that was the key thing, obviously apart from the result.
“Jack did well in the middle and for his age he has great awareness and technical ability. He certainly gave us a great performance.”
Whilst some Spartans fans may have been surprised to see striker Phil Airey starting at right back, Atkinson revealed it was by no means an emergency that saw the Amble born player back in defence.
Airey was very impressive and walked away with the man of the match award, and it was an unlikely source that suggested Airey for the role.
Atkinson said: “I was at Newcastle United’s training ground and they were asking how Phil was getting on.
“They said he played for the reserves as a right back so I thought tonight was a great chance to see him there.
“I asked him to play there before the game and his attitude was top notch.
“Actually, I was surprised because he was excited to play there and he was superb back there.
“His pace is a real bonus at the back and he has given me plenty to think about.”
Atkinson also praised striker Dan Maguire as the former Seaton Delaval man marked his 20th birthday with his maiden goal for the club.
Maguire made two appearances earlier in the season in the fixtures against FC United of Manchester and Marine but saw his opportunities limited by the arrival of Andy Jennings and the form of Ryan McGorrigan.
But Atkinson was delighted to see him hit the net.
He said: “Dan deserved that goal and I was delighted for him.
“He’s a lovely lad and he loves being at the club.
“He played two games before Christmas and the fans saw what he will give you.
“He ran his socks off and he gave everything.
“He still needs to improve how clinical he is but it was great to see him come off the bench and it was an outstanding finish.”