New assistant manager Neal Hooks suffered a baptism of fire on the Blyth Spartans bench as his side lost 1-0 at Marine on Tuesday evening.
Hooks had missed the opening day 3-1 win over Coalville Town as he was on his stag do, but there was to be no repeat of the weekend’s celebrations on Tuesday night as Daniel Mitchley’s late goal saw Spartans leave the Arriva Stadium empty handed.
Blyth had started the game brightly with a dominant first-half display, but Hooks was frustrated to see the visitors lose their way in the second 45 as Marine took control and claimed a victory.
He said: “It was a bit disappointing really. I thought we were in control, kept a hold of the ball and moved it around very well.
“Second half we started a little slow and ended up on the back foot. That’s when we then started playing Marine football and not the type of football we pride ourselves on.
“We lashed the ball long, which turned the game into a bit of a scrap and that’s disappointing.
Spartans had a number of good chances to go ahead before the break through Robert Dale, Daniel Maguire and Sean Reid, but all three were denied by some last-ditch Marine defending, leaving Hooks and the rest of the Spartans backroom staff “frustrated” on the sidelines.
“We had a couple of great chances, but we didn’t take them and I just thought it wasn’t going to be our night from then on.
“It looked like the game was going to fizzle out into a goalless draw, but we made one little mistake and it cost us.
“We didn’t get back into the game after that and we allowed them to build even more momentum towards the end.
“We’ve got to forget about this now though and set ourselves up to go again on Saturday.”
Following Mitchley’s goal, Spartans defenders Nathan Buddle and Andrew Cartwright exchanged heated words in the goalmouth that ended when right-back Cartwright forcefully pushed his teammate away.
Hooks revealed the incident had been addressed in the dressing room, but believes that it just shows both players’ passion for the club.
Hooks said: It summed up the frustration of the squad really. It’s shows that the lads really care and I don’t necessarily think that’s a negative in my eyes.
“They want to win, but it’s alright between the lads and there’s no bad blood or whatever, so we don’t need to dwell on something like that for too long.”
A miserable night on Merseyside was compounded when goalkeeper Peter Jeffries was caught late when catching the ball from a corner just after half-time and was visibly struggling for the rest of the second half.
Typically, Spartans had not named a substitute goalkeeper on the bench, which caused a fair bit of concern for Tom Wade’s new assistant.
Hooks said: “It was a bit of worry when Peter looked to be struggling. We sent Chris [Bell, Blyth’s physio] round and he said he was able to get through the game.
“We were concerned about it, but there wasn’t really much we could do.
“We decided to go with more attacking options and put Jarrett [Rivers] on the bench to try and get some minutes out of him.
“Considering we went most of last season with a sub keeper on the bench and never had any issues, it’s quite unfortunate.
“However, we’ll see how Peter is at training on Thursday and see if he’s able to play at the weekend. If not, we have Adam McHugh who is fresh and ready to go.”