A PALLID first half was followed by a perkier one in Blyth Spartans’ 1-1 draw with Rushall Olympic at Croft Park on Saturday.
Spartans did not contribute much in the way of quality football in the first 45 minutes but caretaker manager Paddy Atkinson was pleased with the improvement as the game wore on.
“Yes, Rushall were better than us, but in fact we were the better team in the second period and finished the stronger. We definitely deserved the point,” he said.
“I know they were down to ten men for the last few minutes after Bragoli was sent off, but our fitness was good.
“A couple of weeks ago we would have tired but at the weekend we didn’t.”
Rushall took the lead in dubious circumstances.
Atkinson added: “It was certainly a controversial penalty decision. The referee thought Damon Mullin had fouled in the box but it didn’t look like it to me.
“He must have seen by how my players reacted that he may have got it wrong. Plus better communication with his assistant may have helped.
“A freak goal cost us last week and on Saturday we suffered from a bad decision. I’m just hoping that we’ll get some luck soon and a few important decisions go our way.”
Rushall were an imposing side and Blyth struggled to match their physicality.
A more impressive Blyth side equalised through Craig Farrell with an 87th minute penalty after Wayne Buchanan was fouled and the game finished 1-1.
Atkinson is on the lookout for reinforcements, however, he’s not finding it easy.
“We are a Norwich, not a Manchester City, and sometimes it is hard to attract the players you want.
”Plus some are put off by the travelling involved, but I’m after a left back and midfielders and hope to make progress over the next week or two.”
Strength in depth is the manager’s other main aim.
“We had Jake Turnbull and Dan Maguire on the bench on Saturday and, though they’ve done well for us when they’ve been used, they are just young lads and sometimes you need experience.
“I also want to change the culture where we have been throwing players back in to the team after injury or when they aren’t fully fit.
“We had to do that against Rushall with Robbie Dale who wasn’t 100 per cent, but we had no one else of his quality available.”
Atkinson was pleased with striker Ryan McGorrigan’s debut.
“I thought he worked hard enough. He chased and harried and could have scored,” he said.
After half-time Blyth did improve but an impotent midfield once again hampered any real drive.
“We were lacking again in that area,” said Atkinson. We need hungry players, hard-working ones with muscle.
“It’s the engine room of a team and, say, with an enemy’s submarine during war if you take the engine room out you can go on to succeed.”
Atkinson’s submarine analogy is pertinent considering the alleged dive which resulted in Saturday’s initial goal and he is clearly counting on new midfielders surfacing soon.
n Match report online