Steve Cuggy’s new-look side continued their winning pre-season form, with a clinical display against STL Northern League side Shildon.
First half goals from new signings Chris Emms and Graeme Armstrong (pictured right) put Spartans firmly in control, before Dan Groves sealed the win from a well-worked free kick on the hour mark.
Despite only being the second game under the new management, Blyth linked up well and there were a number of stand-out performances – most notably from recent acquisitions Shaun Vipond and Liam Atkin – while a second half cameo from Yanis Galas also whetted the appetites of the Spartan crowd.
Blyth started well and could have taken the lead after just four minutes, but Armstrong was unable to keep his header on target, after being found in space at the back post from Phil Cave’s cross.
Cave was a constant attacking threat down the left in the first half, and caused the Shildon defence further problems when he swung another cross in just three minutes later. The ball deflected up into the air and, when it dropped, Armstrong was unlucky to see his volley attempt go wide.
Shildon wasted a glorious opportunity to open the scoring – against the run of play – by hitting the side netting and were made to rue their missed opportunity, when Blyth ran up and scored from the resulting goal kick.
After a knock down by Robert Dale, new club captain Armstrong provided the assist – with a low ball from the right – which left Emms with the simple task of passing the ball into the back of the net to give Blyth the lead.
Spartans’ favourite Chris McCabe tried to give his new side an instant reply, but his drilled shot from the edge of the box fizzed past Matt Hunter’s outstretched hand and wide of the post.
Blyth could have been two goals to the good on 25 minutes, when Atkin produced a fantastic run from the halfway line and took the ball into the box. However, the former Ashington defender decided not to shoot when through on goal and his attempt to square the ball across goal was hacked away by the Shildon defence.
Spartans were not to be deterred and just sixty seconds later, they doubled their advantage. Armstrong took control of the ball 18-yards from goal and executed a delicate chip over Keith Finch who – despite getting a touch on the ball – was powerless to keep it from going in.
Armstrong had a chance to add to his tally in the 28th minute, when Vipond’s through ball put him in at goal, but he was unable to find the net after sliding the ball under the advancing Finch.
Blyth made a host of substitutions in the second half but seemed unaffected by the changes. Wayne Phillips came on for his first game since he re-joined the club and produced a number of skills to entertain the home fans who, by this point, were thoroughly enjoying the team’s performance.
A set piece straight from the training ground gave Blyth their third goal on 62 minutes. Vipond passed to Armstrong in the box, who held the ball up with his back to goal, before knocking it into the path of the advancing Groves (pictured left) to smash home from 8 yards.
Guadeloupe international Galas had created a buzz in the Quantum Elite Stand while warming up and the crowd finally got to see the forward in action, when he replaced Armstrong in the 66th minute. His pace and trickery impressed and he created a host of cheers when his skill allowed him to sneak between two Shildon defenders, who proceeded to run into each other.
Galas could have capped his night with a goal but, when Phillips crossed the ball in for him from the right, with Galas stretching, his effort went agonisingly over the bar.
Galas then got his first taste of English football when he was on the receiving end of a crunching tackle with 20 minutes to go, which left him down on the ground, holding his ankle. However, after treatment, he returned to the field to further cheers from the home support.
Although results in pre-season mean little, a good team performance will no doubt have pleased the Blyth management, who will look to push on when they continue their pre-season preparations with a trip to Spennymoor Town on Saturday (3pm kick off.)
Blyth Spartans: Hunter (Beal 75), Groves, Cave (Phillips 45), Atkin (Forster 62), Coulson (Buchanan 45), Purvis (Slaughter 55), Vipond (Douglas 75), Hooks (Pearson 45), Armstrong (Galas 66), Emms (Mason 74), Dale (Gray 57)
Referee: Seb Stockbridge