Blyth Spartans manager Tom Wade insisted his side would “keep their feet on the ground” after Tuesday night’s win over Evo-Stik NPL title contenders Salford City
The win was secured by a Damen Mullen penalty and recent Spartans signing Wilson Kneeshaw’s first goal for the club, with Josh Hine’s late goal putting the Ammies back into contention and setting off a wave of nerves around Croft Park.
However the hosts saw out the game safely to move seven points clear of Salford and five points clear of second place Workington, although Spartans do hold a game in hand over the Cumbrian side.
And Wade feels that the roots of the victory were secured by his side playing down the stature of the match.
He said “It’s a big win but I didn’t build the game up or see the game in the same way everyone else seemed to be.
It seemed everyone wanted to build it up to be a big occasion but we kept calm and the players did the same. I think when Salford come in, with the cameras in and around the ground, it is hard to not get carried away. We have been there with the cup run last year, we know how it can be from both sides.
We kept calm, we sat down before the game, had a quiet chat and we spoke as we always do, building up the players, talking about team spirit and going out and expressing themselves. That’s what they did and they deserve all of the credit for doing so”
One aspect of the win that pleased Wade more than others was the performance of Wilson Kneeshaw.
The former Darlington forward was a constant menace to the Salford back four and the Spartans manager feels he may have a tough task holding on to the young striker.
“Wilson was fantastic and has been since he came in.
He has great technique, he can beat a player either side with pace or trickery and he is a fantastic finisher. The biggest compliment I can pay him is that because of his performance we didn’t miss Danny Maguire(pictured right) and he is a massive player for us.
We are delighted to have him and I hope we can keep hold of him”
Despite starting the season as the bookmakers sixth favourites for the Evo-Stik NPL title, Spartans are now favourites to secure automatic promotion to the Vanarama National League North.
However Wade was keen to emphasise that nobody at the club would be getting carried away and stressed to his players that they are part of a long-term building process.
“We will keep our feet on the ground, we just have to re-emphasise where they have come from. We are building something here and it has been done over three years.
We are just over halfway through what we wanted to start building and we are doing ok.
We have a great set of lads, there are no big-time charlies. There is a spirit, there is a togetherness and with the ability they have, they can continue to achieve great things”
A crowd of 1,432 packed into Croft Park for the game on an awful night in Blyth.
The North Sea wind battered Northumberland and had a big impact on the game according to Wade, who paid tribute to the support his side received.
“It was a horrible night, the wind had an impact on the game and the conditions were awful.
We had great support, immense support. We had a big crowd, they backed us all of the way and we couldn’t do it without them. I hope they enjoyed it and I hope they come back on Saturday against Grantham Town”
Wade’s tributes were extended to the Ammies too, as he admitted that he felt management team Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley(pictured left) were doing “a great job” under heavy pressure.
“They are a tremendous side, if we had lost we wouldn’t be too downhearted and I think Salford City will be there same.
The gap is easily turned around, they will know that and they have improved massively throughout the season. They have a lot of quality players, the management team are doing a great job and they could go unbeaten for the rest of the season.
The managers were very complimentary, it must be hard with the pressure they have but I still think they are the team to beat because they are an excellent side”
Interview: Mark Carruthers