Blyth Spartans extended their unbeaten run to eight, with a goalless draw against Eastwood Town at Croft Park on Saturday.
It was always going to be difficult to emulate the heroics of Monday night against Droylsden in the FA Trophy and this was by no means a classic but nevertheless Blyth gained a valuable point against the in-form Badgers.
Along with the clean sheet, the other major positives for Mick Tait to take out of this performance were his new signings, as Alan White and Josh Gray both impressed after coming off the bench.
The visitors started the game brightly and Blyth’s goalkeeper Dan Lowson had to be on his toes to keep out a Lee Stevenson shot within the first minute.
At the other end, Stephen Turnbull’s mesmerising run deserved more than a corner after his trickery had found himself in the opposition’s box, before an attempted cut back for Paul Brayson was put behind by Eastwood’s Mat Bailey.
A great turn and cross from Nicky Deverdics produced Blyth’s first real chance on 20 minutes when he found Liam O’Mahoney at the back post, who could only fire straight at Eastwood goalkeeper, John Danby.
The low sun was proving treacherous for both goalkeepers and this was evident on two occasions, midway through the first half. Dan Lowson misjudged a cross which Adrian Hawes almost capitalised on before Blyth’s Michael Tait played a high ball in to the Eastwood area which Danby failed to deal with and it fell to Nicky Deverdics at the back post, who hit a volley across goal which evaded everyone in green and white.
Deverdics was at the heart of the action in Blyth’s next attack, as he played a one-two with Paul Brayson and struck a shot from 25 yards which failed to hit the target.
On the stroke of half time, Stevenson had a shot parried by Lowson, before the Eastwood player followed up the rebound with a header which went wide.
Wayne Buchanan was substituted at half time after suffering a cut below the eyebrow which required seven stitches. Up to this point, the centre back had played every minute of every game for Spartans this season. His defensive partner, Chris Swailes is now Blyth’s only ever present.
The injury meant Mick Tait gave an earlier than expected debut to experienced central defender Alan White, who signed for the club on Friday. And White made a crucial intervention, ten minutes after the break, when he blocked a Lindon Meikle shot inside the Blyth area.
The quality of Stephen Turnbull’s corners has led to many goals this season and Nicky Deverdics almost benefited from a precise delivery on 63 minutes when his glancing header bounced back off the crossbar.
The final ball from both teams could have been better at times, but there is no denying that this was a day for the defences. Chris Swailes made a brilliantly timed tackle to prevent substitute Peter Knox from racing clear before Eastwood’s Mat Bailey was in the right place to clear a Michael Tait effort from the goal line.
Josh Gray, who arrived on a month’s loan from Darlington on Friday, was introduced 12 minutes from time and almost grabbed a dramatic late winner for Blyth in the dying seconds of the game when he made a strong burst from midfield, only to lift his powerful shot over the crossbar.
Blyth will look to continue their good form in the Blue Square Bet North when they travel to high-flying Alfreton Town on Tuesday.
Blyth Spartans: Lowson, Groves, Cave, Tait, Swailes, Buchanan (White), Hooks, Turnbull, Brayson, Deverdics (Gray), O’Mahoney (Dale)
Eastwood Town: Danby, Bailey, Riley, Simpson, Haggerty, Hawes, Foster, Stevenson, Meikle (Miller), Rhead (Knox), Todd
Referee: E. Martin.