Proud Blyth Spartans boss Tom Wade praised his players for pushing Birmingham City all the way in this afternoon’s FA Cup Third Round clash and insisted ‘we deserved to win’
A major upset was well and truly on the cards after home captain Robert Dale scored a brace to give the Green Army, of the Northern Premier League, a dream 2-0 lead at the break.
But Championship side Birmingham turned the tie on its head in the space of six blistering second-half minutes. Lee Novak pulled one back for Gary Rowett’s men before Wesley Thomas equalised in the 55th minute.
Thomas then headed in at the far post just before the hour mark to grab what proved to be the winning goal.
Spartans came close to snatching an injury-time leveller, but substitute Danny Parker headed wide from a corner before Daniel Maguire blazed over from just inside the box with virtually the last kick of the game.
While Wade admitted he was disappointed to see his side squander a two-goal advantage, the Blyth boss hailed his troops for their gutsy performance, which so nearly caused a historic cup upset.
After the match, he said: “I feel sorry for my players because they deserved to get something out of the game.
“It was a great cup tie and it’s just a shame we couldn’t have scored the third. If somebody had said before the game that we would lose 3-2, we would probably have taken that, but I think we deserved to win.
“We did really well in the first half and we were starting to boss the game.
“But they were awesome for those 10 or 15 minutes at the start of the second half and they killed us off. But to be fair, they were only really strong for that period.”
Birmingham sit 120 places above Blyth in the footbal pyramid and have been rejuvenated since Rowett took over at the end of October.
Wade, who was left to reflect on what might have been, said: “I never thought I would be disappointed by being beaten against a Championship side in the FA Cup, so I guess it is a case of being proud at being disappointed.”
Dale, who works as a barman, opened the scoring after 35 minutes when he turned in a Jarrett Rivers cross. He then added his second six minutes later when he fired in to the far corner after a drive into the box.
Reflecting on the midfielder’s brace, Wade said: “His second was a moment of magic, but I have to say that today was all about the collective.”
Despite the defeat, Blyth can look back on a memorable cup run which saw them defeat Conference side Altrincham in the First Round proper, before knocking out League Two outfit Hartlepool United in the Second Round.
While Spartans couldn’t quite add Birmingham to their list of scalps, Wade said: “This experience has been huge for us as a club and as a town. I am so proud of the lads and it is a pleasure to be the manager.”
Blyth will have to dust themselves down quickly and regroup ahead of upcoming Northern Premier League matches, when they travel to Frickley on Tuesday before hosting Belper Town next Saturday.
Wade doesn’t believe the FA Cup disappointment will impact Spartans’ league campaign, adding: “It is a tough league but we will be okay because we have got good character and the attitude of the players is right.”