Blyth Spartans 1 Harrogate Town 0 (Match Report)

Paul BraysonCroft Park welcomed back some old faces in a Harrogate team looking to avenge a 5-2 home defeat which Spartans inflicted when the sides last met back in April.

Although the score-line wasn’t quite as emphatic, another three points and an unbeaten run that now extends to five will be extremely pleasing for Blyth manager Mick Tait.

On a freezing night it was the visitors who were almost caught cold when Alexander broke clear in the area and from a tight angle hit a low hard cross which evaded everyone in green and white.

Turnbull then cleverly hooked a shot over his shoulder from the edge of the box but it was a comfortable height for Harrogate goalkeeper Mark Cook.

Spartans old boy Wayne Phillips then found himself with time and space in the area but his indecision allowed Swailes to clear from danger.

In the closest Blyth are going to get to a local derby in the league this season the first 25 minutes had been fairly tame until Harrogate left back Craig James lunged in on Liam O’ Mahoney. Referee Gary Beswick initially waved play on before blowing his whistle when he realised the Blyth winger needed treatment. He called the Harrogate player over but much to the bewilderment of the home crowd, failed to produce a yellow card.

The visitors then came close through Ellington who made a strong run in to the box but his shot was cleared from the goalmouth from Turnbull.

In the best chance of the first half, Deverdics played a sublime, defence splitting pass to Brayson who took the shot on first time but failed to connect properly with just the keeper to beat.

The first half hadn’t exactly been enthralling but there was a much better response from the home side after the break.

John AlexanderDeverdics and Brayson both had chances before Turnbull played a great ball over the top to Alexander (pictured left) who was hauled down by Harrogate defender Sonny Bradley in the area. The referee had no other option but to point to the spot and to give the centre half his marching orders. Brayson stepped up and placed his penalty in to the top corner of the net for his 12th goal of the season.

Frustration began to show amongst the visiting players and Harrogate captain Steve Bowey was soon in the book for a rash challenge. The yellow card for the former Gateshead man was met with cheers from the home support.

Brayson then had an opportunity to double the lead when he cut in from the left but his goal bound shot was well saved by Cook. The Blyth talisman then turned provider moments later when he teed up Deverdics on the edge of the box who saw his effort sail just over the crossbar.

Home supporters were calling for another red card to be shown, this time for Bowey when he cynically fouled Brayson with the striker in a promising position. However a second yellow was not produced and the Harrogate midfielder got away with a talking to from the referee.

Harrogate almost made Blyth pay for missed chances when Armstrong hit the post with five minutes remaining. Ellington then forced Gillespie in to a save from close range in a nervy end to the game for Blyth.

The win moves Blyth up to 6th position in the Blue Square Bet North ahead of the long trip to Gloucester City on Saturday.

Blyth Spartans: Gillespie, Groves, Cave, Deverdics, Swailes, Buchanan, Hooks, Turnbull, Brayson(c), Alexander, O’Mahoney. MOM: Deverdics

Harrogate Town: Cook, Roma, James, Toner, Picton, Bradley, Foster, Bowey(c), Armstrong, Ellington (Nowakowski), Phillips (Shepherd)

Referee: Mr Beswick
Att: 370

Posted by Andrew Dodds