A BAD bounce leading to a ‘freak’ goal deflated Blyth Spartans at Buxton on Saturday, according to caretaker manager Paddy Atkinson.
The new boss was taking charge of his first game following the midweek depature of Tommy Cassidy.
And he felt his side were denied the luck they required.
“Yes we were under pressure in the first half and Buxton were better than us, but I could have done without conceding a freak goal after 20 minutes,” he said.
“The ball took a horrendous bounce in front of Conor Grant and went over his head.
“It’s all about the first goal at this level and it knocked the lads back for about 15 minutes.
“It’s the sort of thing you see once a season in many leagues, so it does happen. It was just one of those things.”
It was home keeper Ian Deakin’s long free kick which deceived Grant. Credit though to the Blyth player who showed strength of character thereafter.
Spartans went two behind before the interval. A Grant Black cross deep to the far post saw Mark Reed out-jump Blyth’s Darryll Donnelly to head home.
Donnelly was devastated after the game but his manager did not blame him.
”I have no complaints about the goal,” he said.
“Darryll is a young boy at this level and playing against better players than he’s used to. He’s a promising player who will improve.”
Atkinson said of his half-time team talk:”I told the players to believe in themselves more. We had one or two playing out of position within a depleted squad but I told them that Buxton were no great shakes and we needed to go out and give a good account of ourselves. Which is what we did.”
The Blyth boss was quick to make changes in midfield, bringing on Jake Turnbull, Danniel Maguire and Abu Salim in the second half.
“We needed to get the midfield sorted out,” he said.
“We all know we need to strengthen in that area but we can’t make the same excuses every week – we have to do something about it.
“Buxton played with three and that seems quite common in this league, so maybe we need to change our game a little.
“The young lads didn’t stop running and I want to see that from the more experienced players too.
“The youngsters may not be as talented but they put the effort in. It was great to see them, as the half progressed, chasing the ball down and winning it back.”
Atkinson added: “We showed in the second half that we could play a bit and Shaun Utterson again was excellent.
“He’s another young player but he is quite inspirational.
“He’s also consistent and that is something we need all over the pitch. We had only about four consistent performers on Saturday and we need more.”
Whether Atkinson’s demands will see fruition with the the return of several key players in the next couple of weeks remains to be seen, but with Robbie Dale, Joe Kendrick and Lee Mason likely to be back in the squad for Saturday’s home game with Rushall, it is tempting to be optimistic.
The return of defenders Jordan Mellish and Carl Jones to the fold may take a little longer, however.
The Blyth boss indicated that this week may see him seeking to attract new players to the club, although it might not be till next week that the results of his pursuits bear fruit.
“This is a rebuilding process and the aim is to achieve a settled side,” he said.
“All the players at the club should realise that we need more from them and this starts with training on Tuesday.”
After last weekend’s opening goal oddity, Blyth will be aspiring to bounce back with just as much force against Rushall.