Dale proud of Spartans’ character in FA Cup win at Hartlepool

Stephen Turnbull in action for Blyth Spartans. Picture by Frank Reid
Stephen Turnbull in action for Blyth Spartans. Picture by Frank Reid

He has been there, done it and seen it all before at Blyth Spartans, but long serving winger Robbie Dale was almost lost for words as his side knocked SkyBet League Two club Hartlepool United out of the FA Cup.

Second half goals from Stephen Turnbull and Jarrett Rivers ensured that a first half strike from Pools winger Jonathan Franks was meaningless and put Spartans into the third round for the first time since the 2008-09 season.

Dale said he was proud of the character his team-mates had shown on a bitterly cold night at Victoria Park.

He said: “The character from the lads won us that. We all know we have a young side but the character they have shown was absolutely out of this world.

“To go into half-time a goal down against a Football League club and to come back and win is amazing, we were delighted in that dressing room.”

There have been many significant moments during this cup run for Spartans and there was a bit of history repeating with Rivers’ late winner against Pools.

The former Middlesbrough academy winger notched a late winner in the third qualifying round against Mickleover Sports, and he managed it again with his late winner at Victoria Park, something Dale saw coming as soon as his fellow winger received the ball 25 yards from goal.

“When he got the ball I said ‘goal’,” added Dale.

“The centre back made a big error backing off Jarrett and we all know what he could do when that happens in front of him.

“All he needed then was half a yard and he would get a shot away, and that’s what happened.”

Dale is in a position of seniority at Croft Park these days, something that is a far cry from the cup run of 2008-09 when Spartans made their way to the third round.

As the only existing member of the side that went out to then Premier League outfit Blackburn Rovers, Dale is in the perfect position to compare the two runs, although he admitted that the current run has been a lot more difficult than it’s predecessor.

He said: “It’s different to that run because we won key games at home.

“It’s more difficult doing it away from home.

“It doesn’t matter where they are in their league they are a professional team, but we knew that if we stayed in the game their supporters would make it difficult for them.

“When the second goal went in that was it, they weren’t coming back from that.”