Blyth Spartans manager Alun Armstrong described his side reaching the Vanarama National League North play-offs as “a phenomenal achievement”.
Spartans legend Robbie Dale added another chapter to his remarkable career at the club by scoring two penalties in their 2-1 win against the Sandgrounders.
That result meant that the current group of Spartans achieved the club’s highest-ever league finish and qualified for the National League North play-offs for the first time in their history.
Thoughts of the play-offs could hardly have been further away from Armstrong’s thoughts in the first six weeks of the season as his side lost seven of their opening ten league games.
But they have hit form at the right time and Saturday’s win against Southport saw Spartans pick up all three points for the seventh game in a row.
The Spartans boss said “When you look at where we were after ten games, I think we all thought it was going to be a relegation battle.
“There were times when Darren (Holloway) and Hooksy (coach Neal Hooks) looked at each other and thought we were in for a long season.
“But we kept working with them and put together a long unbeaten run and that got us away from the lower end of the table.
“The lads have reacted really well, and we have found a formula to win games – that has been the difference between where we have got to and where we could have been.
“You just have to pinch yourself when you see what we have done this season.
“To get this famous, old non-league football club into the play-offs is a phenomenal achievement.”
Spartans face a trip to Altrincham in the qualifying round of the play-offs on Wednesday and Armstrong revealed that a number of players will face fitness tests ahead of the game.
However, the Spartans boss admitted that, despite their injury concerns, his side will travel to the J Davidson Stadium in a confident mood.
“We have Robbie Dale missing the entire play-offs because he is away on holiday. It will be an extremely tough game, but the play-offs is a lottery and we have found a formula to win games, so we are confident.”