Monday, March 25, 2013

Wade still upbeat despite first loss

 Source: The Journal

 TOM Wade’s honeymoon period as Blyth boss is over, writes STEVE BROWN.

But having pushed FC United of Manchester so close, the new Spartans manager insists his side is in the right shape to progress.

The Croft Park club had posted back-to-back wins with Wade in charge, first in former manager Paddy Atkinson’s work-enforced absence at Kendal Town, then following Atkinson’s resignation against Ilkeston.

The Manchester United breakaway club would prove a different matter, however.

But in front of a crowd of 1730 at Bury’s Gigg Lane, Blyth took FC United to the wire, and were unfortunate to come away without a point.

“We want to push on,” said Wade.

“Without being arrogant about it, Blyth Spartans shouldn’t be in the position we are in.

“Yes, relegation last season has left the club with a bit of a hangover, and it’s true we don’t have a divine right to be up at the top, or in the league above.

“But I think the atmosphere here now is right, and we’re ready to progress.

“It will be hard to win a lot of games with so many to pack in before the end of the season.

“But we’ve got a good set of lads, the shape and the system are good and if they work hard we can start to climb the table.”

That will have to wait until Wednesday’s trip to Ashton United after defeat in Lancashire, but Spartans can take encouragement from their performance.

Though the hosts’ Dean Stott went close early on, Blyth shocked their opponents by going in front after 11 minutes.

Dan Maguire’s determination forced a corner, and from Stephen Turnbull’s flag-kick, Joe Kendrick headed past James Spencer from 10 yards, his second goal in as many games since coming off the transfer list.

Sam Fitzgerald then went close to equalising before half-time, and after the interval Lee Mason set up Maguire, who forced a fine save from Spencer.

As play became increasingly scrappy, Ashley Mulholland curled wide for the home side, and Robbie Dale’s effort clipped the crossbar.

Moments later, FC United struck twice in as many minutes.

Carlos Roca latched onto a poor clearance by Blyth, and Mike Norton tapped in from close range, then a mishit shot by Roca bobbled past Mark Cook, making his Blyth debut, off Tom Greaves.

FC UNITED OF MANCHESTER: Spencer; Stott, Neville, Birch, Jones, Lacy, Mulholland (Greaves), Fitzgerald (Giggs), Norton, Wright, Wolfenden.

BLYTH SPARTANS: Cook; Airey, Slaughter, Kendrick, Buchanan, Turnbull (Berg), Mason, Hooks (Jennings), Hubbard, Maguire, Dale.

Referee: Mr K Haycock.

Attendance: 1,730.

FC United of Manchester 2

Blyth Spartans 1

Fixture backlog is growing

 Source: Sheffield Telegraph

 Heavy snowfall caused further disruption with all but a couple of the weekend games in the Evo-Stik and Baris NCEL postponed creating a fixture headache.

FC United of Manchester came from behind to beat Blyth Spartans 2-1 in the only Evo-Stik NPL game to take place, while in the only game in the Baris NCEL Scarborough Athletic went top of Premier Division with a 2-0 home win over Tadcaster.

Alan Alcock, the Evo-Stik League’s Operations Manager, admitted the latest disruption is a blow with the league campaign set to finish on Saturday, April 27, and said: “The weather has created major problems in how to squeeze games in over the remaining weeks of the season.”

With little chance of an immediate thaw midweek games are also expected to be severely hit. Stocksbridge Park Steels are due to face FC United at Bracken Moor tomorrow with Sheffield FC at Brigg Town, while Parkgate and Hallam host Bridlington Town and Dinnington Town respectively.

Stocksbridge Chairman Allen Bethel said; “There was around 11 inches of snow in areas of pitch on Saturday morning. The chances of staging tomorrow’s game against United are virtually non-existent. We still have 12 matches to fit in, eight of them at home.”

Many clubs already facing the prospect of two midweek games. Steels have arranged their home Senior Cup semi-final for Thursday, April 11, two days after they face Stafford Rangers at Bracken Moor. The new date for the relegation showdown against Grantham Town, postponed on Saturday, is now Tuesday, April 23.

Sheffield FC face cramming in 13 games, eight of which are at Dronfield where over the Easter week they face a gruelling three games in six days.

There is at least some good news for the Northern Counties East League clubs after the Management Board announced it had been given approval to extend by a week up to Saturday May 4.

TUESDAY - Evo-Stik Premier Div: Stocksbridge PS v FC Utd of Manchester, Matlock Town v AFC Fylde.

Div One South: Brigg Town v Sheffield FC.

Baris NCEL - Premier Div: Parkgate v Bridlington Town.

Div One: Askern Villa v Albion Sp, Hallam v Dinnington Tn, Rossington Mn v Eccleshill Utd, Teversal v Worsbrough Bridge.

WEDNESDAY - Evo-Stik Premier Div: Worksop Tn v Rushall Olympic.

Baris NCEL League Cup Quarter-Final: Louth Town v Staveley MW.

Premier Div: Barton Town OB v Retford United.

THURSDAY - Baris NCEL Division One: AFC Emley v Bottesford Town.

FRIDAY - Baris NCEL Div One: Athersley Rec v Askern Villa

By Paul Webster
Published on Monday 25 March 2013 07:49

Snow busters sweep to victory!

 Source: Evo-Stik League

 FC United of Manchester's fans won the thanks of their play-off chasing side on Saturday after answering an emergency call on social media to clear Gigg Lane of snow so their Evo-Stik Northern Premier League clash with Blyth Spartans could go ahead.

After their earlier exertions, supporters had to wait for two late goals to secure a 2-1 win in the only fixture in the Evo-Stik NPL's three divisions to beat the big freeze as snow again blanketed large parts of the country.

FCUM say their fans made sure their team had a chance to bounce back from three defeats on the spin by turning out in force after the club's media department put out an appeal for volunteers with shovels and brushes, swinging into action via the club's website and Twitter and Facebook accounts before securing coverage on local and national radio.

The Evo-Stik NPL outfit's Press Officer Andy Walker said fans did such a good job that the pitch, pictured before and after their efforts, was clear and fit to play by 10.30am despite the heavy snowfall in the Manchester area on Friday and overnight.

Fans later earned their perfect reward, Mike Norton equalising and Tom Greaves grabbing the winner in the final ten minutes to cancel out a 12th minute Joe Kendrick goal and strengthen the fifth placed club's play-off bid.

Walker said: "We put out a call for help via our website, Twitter and Facebook and also managed to get some coverage on BBC Five Live, TalkSport and Radio Manchester. With no big freeze we knew that if we could get the pitch clear of snow then the game would definitely go ahead.

"We had a great response from our supporters who turned up with their shovels and brushes and finished the job in quick time. Thankfully, the players did their bit too by winning the game to put us right back in the play-off mix."

Spartans run out of steam but football’s spirit in strong voice

 Source: New Post Leader

 THE banners read ‘supporters not customers’ and ‘making friends not millionaires’ at Gigg Lane Bury on Saturday.

And as the millionaire Premier League footballers were putting their expensive feet up, enjoying a weekend off, football in that part of Lancashire at least seemed to have rediscovered its soul.

Home side FC United of Manchester hosted visitors Blyth Spartans in what turned out to be a thoroughly engaging game of football in front of a boisterous but amicable crowd. A reassuringly heart-warming football experience.

Spartans started with a 4-5-1 formation with Daniel Maguire spearheading the attack.

Blyth manager Tom Wade said:” In most away matches this season we’ve not started well and have ended up chasing the game, so I wanted us to be solid and disciplined.

“FC United are a very attacking side and we had to stop them over-running us.

“The plan worked well until the last ten minutes when we ran out of legs.”

The Spartans took the lead on 11 minutes, the nature of which pleased Wade.

“We have been working on our set pieces so it was nice to score from a corner.

“It was a good cross by Steve Turnbull and Joe Kendrick did well to get to the ball and head home.

“I think it’s probably the first goal we’ve scored this season like that from a corner.”

Maguire impressed with his running, guile and burgeoning confidence.

The young former Seaton Delaval player was taking photos of the impressive Bury FC stadium prior to kick-off – somewhat different from the homely charms of Delaval’s Wheatridge Park ground where he was playing last season.

A sign of how far the player has come in so short a time.

Blyth stubbornly resisted the home side’s advances until the 80th minute when Mike Norton nipped in front of Ritchie Slaughter to equalise.

FC United went ahead within a minute, this time through Tom Greaves.

“Another couple of sloppy goals conceded by us,” said Wade.

“They were running out of ideas. They were controlling play up to the last third but seldom got through or around us. But we were running out of steam a little.

“I thought we deserved a point from the game but the positives are that we had good shape, were competitive and worked hard.

“The lads are 100 per cent behind the cause and understand what is being asked of them.

“We did well for 80 minutes but need to do it for the full 90. We have improved massively in the last two weeks.”

And Wade was full of praise for the vociferous travelling supporters.

“They were superb, outstanding,” he said.

“I said to the players before kick-off that the home fans would be noisy and for it not to dishearten them when they came out of the tunnel. But what actually happened was all they could hear were the Blyth fans”

The game was the first in which new coach John Cornforth was involved.

Wade added: “The lads took to John immediately. He organised a great warm-up and he is a calming influence of them. John is massively experienced, and it shows.”

Explaining the division of responsibilities, he said: ““I will be picking the team and signing players with John advising.

“John himself will be running training and will be more involved in the football side of things.”

If not a winning start for the new duo at the weekend, it was a highly promising one on an occasion which augured well for Blyth and the intrinsic spirit of football.

  By Phil Castiaux
  Published on Sunday 24 March 2013 14:12