Blyth Spartans manager demands reaction after Darlington defeat

There was another defeat for Blyth Spartans as National League North relegation rivals claimed a 2-1 win at Croft Park on Tuesday night.

Blyth Spartans manager Jon Shaw rued some familiar failings from his side as they suffered a 2-1 home defeat against North East rivals Darlington.

The in-form Quakers made the most of a lively start to the contest when former Spartans winger Matty Cornish crashed an unstoppable long-range effort beyond Alex Mitchell from all of 30 yards. Spartans did improve after a sluggish opening to the game but paid for a lack of quality and creativity in the final third as their visitors dealt with the minimal threat that was thrown their way.

Blyth Spartans manager Jon Shaw and assistant manager Lewis Dickman (photo Paul Scott)Blyth Spartans manager Jon Shaw and assistant manager Lewis Dickman (photo Paul Scott)
Blyth Spartans manager Jon Shaw and assistant manager Lewis Dickman (photo Paul Scott)
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A second goal arrived just after the hour-mark as former Gateshead man Cameron Salkeld doubled Darlington’s lead by punishing some abysmal defending from Spartans with a cool finish across the desperate dive of Mitchell. On-loan York City winger Zanda Siziba reduced the arrears in the final minute but Spartans were unable to find an equaliser despite substitute JJ Hooper seeing a header cleared from the line deep in injury-time.

Speaking after the game, Shaw told The Gazette: “Darlington have a system and style that has been effective over the last month or so and since Steve (Watson) and Terry (Mitchell) took over. I spotted it, we planned for it, and in the first ten minutes we didn’t get to grips with it. The shape doesn’t score the goal, it’s a great finish, but once we got to grips with it, we probably dominated the rest of the half, our game-plan was then working, but we didn’t have that ruthless edge and that’s the story of the last month for us.

“You get sick of telling people you’re the best team in the game but don’t win and tonight is probably the culmination of that. We’ve dominated a lot of football in the first-half after the goal but haven’t had that edge, that ruthlessness to go and put a goal in to get us back on level-terms. We made a mistake, as usual it ended up in our net and then we came alive. We had a right go at the end, got one and could have had another.”

Shaw’s side are now sat just two points and three places above the National League North relegation zone ahead of Saturday’s trip to Southport. The Spartans boss challenged his players to show they have the desire to claim what would be a much-needed win when the return to Croft Park for training ahead of their trip to face the Sandgrounders.

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“I was a little quiet at the end because there’s no point going in there and ripping shreds off them,” he explained.

"It’s now time for them to show their characters. We have a day or two to clear their heads and then we have training on Thursday where we will have a look at ourselves and we will have a look at Southport. Southport is massive, I am sure there will be changes to the team and Thursday will be one of those training sessions where people have to show who wants to go down there and beat Southport.”