In the first instalment of a regular feature, our inside man Ben Nugent blogs about the past week and the goings on within the camp…
After a positive Christmas period and a great start to the New Year we started a fresh week, with Blyth Spartans our next opponents. Another good training week combined with a visit down to the local cross fit gym set us up for the 550-mile round trip to Blyth. We set off Friday mid-morning as we embarked on our mammoth journey. With lots of hours to kill, I’d wrote up a little quiz for the lads and staff in which kit man Sheppy, analyst Chloe and physio Arron took home the prize of a box of Celebrations, which Sheppy nicely shared with the bus. Although the boys at the back of the bus got stuck with the Bounties and Snickers.
On arrival to the hotel, a group session in the gym was accompanied with a 20-minute pool session. All the lads were eyeing up the jacuzzi throughout our stretching session, however it was at full capacity the entire time. With the steam room also being off limits, it was time to get changed and head down for our team meeting.
After the meeting on how we were going to approach the game the following day, we went to Nando’s as a team for some dinner. We all booked taxi’s in our 3’s and 4’s and off we went. At this point we were all very hungry and after stocking up on chicken, rice and a few chips, we headed back to the hotel. A few of the boys watched the Palace v Brighton game, however I went back to chill in the room with my roomy, Cole dog.
We had a lovely little chin wag whilst watching Kill Bill: vol.1, which in my eyes is some way to spend a Friday evening. After a good night’s kip, me and Coley joined Fabian and Tommy for some breakfast and got stuck into the buffet. After polishing off the breakfast and washing it down with a Cappuccino, we all packed our bags and headed down to set off on a walk to get some fresh air. The Man City v Chelsea game was the early kick off so a few of us watched the first twenty minutes before our final preparations with the Gaffa and Daf in the meeting room.
It was only a short trip to the Blyth stadium where Sheppy, the diamond that he is, was waiting after heading to the ground early to lay out all our kit. After all the lads had got changed and got their rubs and strappings, we headed out to the pitch for the warmup. We headed back to the dressing room for final preparation and the Gaffa’s final message. We were all pumped and ready to go as Daws led us out.
Both teams looked to play early on with Blyth finding some joy in the pockets and managing to capitalize from a cross on the 15th minute. This did not halt us as a team as we continued to play and create numerous chances. We came in 1-0 down at halftime knowing that we had more in the tank and had underperformed. The second half commenced, and it looked like only one team was going to win. We were knocking on the door constantly throughout the half missing two one on ones and unable to get on the end of a bombardment of crosses into the Blyth area. However, we didn’t take our chances and were eventually punished in the 80th minute after pushing so desperately hard for an equalizer.
A huge blow especially considering that as a squad, we have been confident going into every game and the fact that Blyth are only one place ahead. With them edging away from us the next 4 weeks is vital if we are to have any aspirations otherwise the season is in danger of petering out.