AFTER two consecutive draws in the Blue Square North, Blyth Spartans FC manager Steve Cuggy is urging his players to take full advantage of the upcoming home games against Droylsden and Boston United to ensure they put a difficult start of the season behind them.
Blyth have taken just six points from their opening seven fixtures and Cuggy believes their next task is to start turning draws in to wins.
In Saturday’s 0-0 stalemate with Eastwood Town, Blyth were left slightly frustrated after failing to find the net in the second period, despite creating some decent opportunities near the end.
Cuggy said: “I think Eastwood are a side that we are at least on a level playing field with so we were coming here positive and with a little bit of luck near the end we could have pinched it.
“In the last two games against Harrogate and Eastwood, I think overall we’ve deserved more than just two points.”
He added: “We’ll be trying to put Droylsden and Boston on the back foot in the next two games when they travel up to Croft Park.”
Blyth’s campaign has so far been blighted by injuries and with strikers Glen Taylor and Phil Bannister both missing, Cuggy had fresh injury concerns in the forward department ahead of this clash, with captain Graeme Armstrong also struggling after sustaining a knock against Harrogate.
The manager said: “Graeme did us a big favour to be honest. He was in a lot of pain on the way down and said he would do his best to give us 45 minutes, which he did.
“He’s got a dead leg and was struggling to sprint, but he battled on and he’s got a big heart, so we expected nothing less from him.”
Armstrong should be in the starting 11 to face Droylsden on Saturday, and joining him could be Shaun Vipond, pictured, who returned to action as a second half substitute at Coronation Park on Saturday.
Cuggy said: “Shaun is a big player for us and it was good to see him back.
“It may take him a few more substitute appearances to get him back to full fitness but we’ll have to wait and see.”
On another positive note, Blyth managed to keep their first clean sheet of the season with on-loan goalkeeper David Knight producing
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a couple of fine saves early in to his Spartans debut.
Cuggy praised the former Middlesbrough, Darlington and Oldham Athletic keeper, saying: “Keeping a clean sheet was a big step in the right direction and a bit of a monkey off our backs.
“I think Dave did really well, he was very assured and you can see he’s been playing professionally.
“He’s very sound, very confident and I think his handling was good and his confidence spread to the rest of the team, so I didn’t feel we were in any major danger of conceding.”
Despite claiming his players were ‘a little disappointed’ at not finding a late winner, Cuggy remained upbeat about coming away from Nottinghamshire with a point.
He said: “There are a lot of positives to take from it, particularly the clean sheet and the fact we’ve played for 30 minutes without a centre forward.
“Even though we’ve got four strikers on our books, none of them were available after an hour due to injury.
“We had two wingers up front who battled on near the end, so it was a decent point on that score, but if we had our full forward line out then I’d have expected us to score a goal or two.”
Once again, Blyth rallied in the latter stages of the contest and Cuggy believes this is down to the hard work of his assistant manager Gavin Fell.
He said: “It’s testament to the training Gav put on during the summer, we seem to finish very strong in nearly every game and I was hopeful of us pinching it but it wasn’t to be.”