BLYTH Spartans’ assistant manager Tom Wade described Stephen Turnbull’s return to Croft Park and his influential performance in the 4-1 win over Ashton on Tuesday night as ‘the icing on the cake’.
Although the victory was not in itself a piece of cake, it was nevertheless a tasty showing by the Spartans.
So how was it that Blyth could come back so strongly after Saturday’s capitulation away at Rushall Olympic?
“It was down to a couple of things,” suggested Wade.
“The lads were very down after the weekend and felt they had let themselves down at Rushall.
“But they were up to put things right on Tuesday.
“There had been a lot of bad stuff going on over the last few weeks in terms of performances and results, so they were ready to bounce back.
“Secondly there was the return of Turnbull.
“He was a big positive for us in the Ashton game with all his experience.
“He brought out the best in the players around him too. They can feed off him easily and are confident in terms of giving and receiving the ball with him in the middle of the park.”
Fellow midfielder Neal Hooks was certainly one who seemed to benefit from Turnbull’s presence.
Wade added: “Stephen knows when to play the right ball at the right time and there is a mutual respect between him and Neal.
“I firmly believe that the central position is Stephen’s best rather than wide on the left.
“I also believe he is one of the best players in that position in our league and, on his day, Neal is too.”
Wade went on to praise the defence, which has been on the receiving end of some fairly biting criticism of late due to its sponge-like characteristics.
“Our back four were altogether better on Tuesday. They kept their positions well and Phil Airey in particular simply strolled though the match,” he said.
The Spartans face a long trip to Hednesford in the Midlands this Saturday, and with one or two players having picked up injuries it looks that Blyth will be unable to keep the same team as Tuesday’s.
However Craig Hubbard is expected to return to the squad.