By Mark Carruthers
Blyth Spartans manager Alun Armstrong believes his side caught Stockport County “at the right time” after seeing off the Hatters at Croft Park.
Spartans started brightly and were two goals ahead after half an hour thanks to an own-goal from County defender Dan Cowan and a stunning long-range effort from Sean Reid.
Adam Thomas halved Spartans’ lead ten minutes with a header before half-time but Connor Oliver restored the hosts two-goal advantage in the early-stages of the second-half.
A deflected effort from County striker Frank Mulhern got the Hatters back into it midway through the second-half but Spartans held on for a deserved win.
Armstrong said “Stockport County have a special place in my heart because it’s where my career really started as a player.
“I am delighted to get a win against them, but I think we have caught them at the right time.
“They have a tough game against Chorley in the FA Trophy on Saturday, they’ve just played Brackley last weekend and they have the FA Cup game against Bristol Rovers coming up too.
“It sounds daft but they will already be looking at that game.
“We did the same for the York City FA Cup tie, we looked ahead, we didn’t turn up in our game at Boston United and we got turned over.
“I am sure Jim (Gannon) will be disappointed with the performance from his team tonight.
“They’ve been on a great run but we just have to focus on ourselves.
“The win tonight puts us in a nice position and we needed it.
“The hard work doesn’t stop here, we have to carry on and we have to keep the momentum going.”
The win against County means that Spartans have won four of their last six National League North games.
That run of form has taken them out of the relegation zone and up to just below mid-table.
They currently sit six points clear of the drop-zone and intriguingly are just five points behind the play-off places.
But Armstrong is staying true to his pre-season target of staying in the league and refused to change that mindset despite his side’s upturn in form.
“Success is staying in this league” explained the Spartans boss.
“That’s what I said my target was at the start of the season and it stays the same now.
“After the budget cut in the summer and losing players like David Atkinson and Dale Hopson, it has to be the target.
“They are quality players that could play a lot higher.
“I had to replace them with young lads that we are having to try and develop, so we have to show patience.
“We have had injuries but we need the fans to be patient and I am hope they will be.
“They know what we are up against here.”
Next up for Spartans is Saturday’s Buildbase FA Trophy Third Qualifying Round home tie against Evo-Stik League East promotion challengers Marske United.