While Alun Armstrong had predicted that Blyth Spartans would comfortably win their Buildbase FA Trophy replay against Goole, not even he would have envisaged a 7-1 rout coming at Croft Park on Tuesday night.
Daniel Maguire and Luke Armstrong both scored hat-tricks, before Richard Pell headed home late on to wrap up a comprehensive win. Goole had reduced their arrears to 4-1 with a Danny Chambers goal early in the second half, but the Evo-Stik Premier League Division One North side never really threatened to build on that breakthrough.
Chambers’ goal was scored in the most unlikely of circumstances – as he blocked Gavin Caines’ clearance onto the bar, before the ball bounced down over the line. However, it didn’t stop Armstrong from being delighted with his side’s performance.
“It should have been a 7-0 win,” Armstrong joked. “I had said that we were going to win comfortably tonight – as I knew what we had and knew that we hadn’t performed anywhere near where we can down there, even in the first half.
“I had every confidence that the lads would win the game by four or five at Croft Park – and that’s no disrespect to Goole, by the way – I just know what we’ve got and, looking at the original game on Saturday, we should have won it comfortably.
“I thought we put in a great performance and I was able to bring in players who I hadn’t seen play before. The likes of [Chris] Bell and Pelly [Richard Pell], who both came in and did really well and I think Pelly could have even had a hat-trick himself to be honest.
Due to needing a replay to see off the Yorkshire-based Vikings, Spartans avoided an Evo-Stik Premier League away trip to Warrington Town. However, with a number of away trips to contend with this month, the Blyth boss was glad that a second game against Goole helped break up the bus trips a bit – as his side took full advantage of home comforts in Tuesday’s rout.
Armstrong added: “It’s worked out well for us in the end, because we had a home game instead of a trip to Warrington. I didn’t want three away trips on the bounce – as it does take it out of the lads, but it’s worked out quite nicely having the replay at home.
“I thought we started ever so well. After 15 minutes, I didn’t know what to say to the lads.
“I turned to Darren [Holloway, assistant manager] and said ‘what do you say to this’ and we were only 1-0 up at the time. At half-time, it could have been six or seven and no one could have complained.
“However, again, we have that 20-minute spell where we take our foot off the gas and I keep saying to them that we have to keep going. Yes, I’d like them to save energy if the game is won, but I want to keep doing what we’re good at; keeping the ball moving quickly and attacking people.
“I can’t really complain at the lads though – as they’re doing everything that I ask of them and long may that continue.”
History was made in the win over Goole, as – thanks to Maguire and Armstrong junior both scoring three goals each – two Blyth Spartans players scored hat-tricks in the same match for the first time in 31 years. Yet, while he thinks some will doubt him, the 41-year-old insisted that he predicted his strikers would run riot.
Armstrong said: “People probably won’t believe me, but I said to the two strikers that they should both be getting hat-tricks. Obviously, one of those was Reidy [Sean Reid], but I told Nipa that he hadn’t scored since he’d returned from injury and to go out and get himself a goal.
“I’m delighted for them both. I’m delighted for Danny – as he thrives on his goals and he’s got his rewards against Goole – and I was chuffed to bits with Luke’s reaction to coming on and scoring his three goals.
“They should be buzzing with their performances and be ready to go again on Saturday.”
While two of his three strikers were claiming a match ball each, there was heartache for Reid – as he was forced off with injury following a hard challenge from Goole’s Alex Varley just 20 minutes in. While Reid was able to hobble off the pitch, Armstrong revealed that he is still awaiting further details from physio Chris Bell.
Armstrong admitted: “It is a bad one – as he’s got a couple of marks on his knee. There’s a couple of big lumps and it’s in a soft spot, so we’ll have to assess it at training and I’ll be talking to Belly about it.
“It’s disappointing for the lad – as he had started really brightly. It’s unfortunate that the ball has run away from him, but I told him that he should have just pulled out of the tackle and no one would have thought any less of him if he had.
“That’s Reidy though. He gives everything in every game, but maybe he’ll learn from this for the next time.”
While Tuesday night’s emphatic victory sees the Spartans march on to a home tie against fellow league side Halesowen Town on November 12, Armstrong insisted that he is focused solely on produced a fine display at Barwell on Guy Fawkes Day.
He said: “Confidence will be sky high for Saturday now and that’s where I want it to be. I’ve said it before, but I fancy our chances against anybody; it doesn’t matter who we play.
“As long as we put the work ethic in, we’ll match any team because of the quality we’ve got.
“We’re focused solely on the trip to Barwell on Saturday for now though and we’ll deal with the Halesowen tie once that’s out the way. My main focus is the league and we’ve got to make sure we go and win that game on Saturday, then we can move on to the next one.”
Article: Glen Maxwell (@glenmaxwell)