Blyth Spartans 1-3 Chorley
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League
Tuesday 18th September
After a five match unbeaten run Spartans were brought back down to Earth as a lacklustre second half performance allowed Chorley to comeback from one down at half-time to take all three points. Phil Airey had given Spartans the lead on the half hour mark and it was a lead they took into the interval but Chorley came out of the blocks quicker in the second half and in the end deserved to take all three points. Tommy Cassidy’s men can point to a controversial decision just before half time that saw the referee show a yellow card rather than a red to Chorley defender Teague, when he brought down Craig Farrell as the former Carlisle United striker was in on goal. However that can’t really be used as an excuse for a poor second period by Spartans.
It would be the home side who started the better with left back Joe Kendrick going close twice within the first five minutes. A loose ball fell to the former Mansfield Town defender thirty yards from goal. Kendrick hit an outstanding left foot volley that was dipping and swerving towards goal but was spectacularly saved by Cudworth in the Chorley goal. Two minutes later and Kendrick tested Cudworth again with a twenty yard free kick that was saved low down by the Magpies keeper. It took twenty minutes for the visitors to seriously test Conor Grant and that came when midfielder Whitham struck a low curler from the edge of the box that Grant did well to palm away from danger. Chorley were looking dangerous now with plenty and pace and movement but it would be Spartans who took the lead.
Robbie Dale robbed(no pun intended!) Magpies full back Mark Ross and broke down the inside left channel. Dale fired a cross towards the penalty spot that found the onrushing Phil Airey who crashed a header past Cudworth for his fourth goal for the club. A minute later and Airey came within a whisker of doubling his tally and his side’s lead. Straight from the kick off he stole the ball from Whitham and charged at goal. His right footed effort from the edge of the box went narrowly wide of the left hand post. On the brink of half time came the controversial incident that should have seen the visitors reduced to ten men. Craig Farrell was played in on goal and was brought down by a clumsy tackle from Andrew Teague. As Croft Park waited for the red card, the referee showed a yellow, much to the amazement of everyone in the ground and was booed off as the half time whistle was blown.
Chorley came out quicker in the second half and within ten minutes had overturned their deficit to lead the game 1-2. Four minutes after the break they equalised as a long ball from Russell caught the Spartans defence napping and Tom Ince got to the ball before Conor Grant, looping it over the Spartans keeper and into the empty net. It was only three minutes later when the visitors took the lead and if the first goal was sloppy defending from Spartans the second goal was one of the highest calibre. A loose ball feel to Roscoe on the angle of the box and he hit a wonderful right footed volley that curled into the far side of Grant’s net. A game that seemed all about Spartans was now in the hands of the Magpies.
The game turned scrappy with the referee having to show cards to players from both sides and it wasn’t until twenty minutes from time when Spartans looked like getting an equaliser. Dale curled a ball into the far post that found the head of captain Wayne Buchanan. He headed the ball back to the edge of the six yard box and Joe Kendrick got up above Cudworth and headed goalwards but only found Teague on the goal line and he cleared. As the clock ran down Spartans must have had an inkling it wasn’t to be their day when a Kendrick cross found Buchanan free in the box and as he headed across the face of goal there were no Spartans players available to finish from close range.
With five minutes left Chorley sealed the win with a clinical finish from striker Stephenson. The front man had been a constant menace to the Spartans back line and his performance deserved a goal that duly arrived when he took a cross from Ince, span his marker Buchanan and calmly rolled past Grant to seal the points for his side. Spartans had the last chance as Dale from substitute Tom Berj who curled a left foot effort from just inside the box that was palmed away by Cudworth and ensured that Gary Flitcroft’s side became the first team since Hednesford Town to take all three points from Spartans.
Spartans Man of the Match: Jordan Mellish
Blyth Spartans: Grant, Utterson, Kendrick, Hodgson, Buchanan, Mellish, Mason, Hooks, Dale, Farrell, Airey Subs: Vipond, Hunter, Berj, Davis Goalscorer: Airey 30
Chorley: Cudworth, Ross, Barnes, Teague, Russell, Garner, Roscoe, Whitham, Stephenson, Denham, Ince Subs: Foster, Flitcroft, Cunliffe, Williams, Jansen Goalscorers Ince 49, Roscoe 52, Stephenson 85