Blyth got back to winning ways with a 3-0 victory over Chester-le-Street – but could have posted a cricket score had it not been for opposition goalkeeper Kyle Barlow.
Adam Forster’s debut strike put Blyth ahead at the end of a frustrating first half, before a double from captain Graeme Armstrong helped Blyth to put Saturday’s 4-2 defeat against Norton & Stockton Ancients behind them.
Spartans found visiting goalkeeper Barlow in fantastic form, as he produced a number of fine saves to deny the home side – and Armstrong in particular – from further adding to their tally.
Both sides were slow out of the blocks, with the first real chance not coming until the 10th minute. Armstrong should have opened the scoring with a first-time shot, but fired straight at Barlow – who parried the ball away.
Robert Dale danced down the left wing and supplied a dangerous low ball across goal, which eluded everybody – including Lee Mason and Armstrong at the back post.
Dale’s 13th-minute defence-splitting pass put Armstrong through on goal, but Barlow got down to get his body behind Armstrong’s low fierce drive.
Armstrong then had another chance to break the deadlock nine minutes later. Dale’s flick on from Neal Hook’s corner knocked the ball skyward, but Armstrong could not keep his volley on target – after leaping to connect with the ball.
Armstrong was further frustrated by Barlow’s masterclass in the 33rd-minute, when he turned and shot from six-yards out. Barlow saved at point-blank range – his trailing leg deflected the ball up onto the bar and out for a corner.
With time running out on a frustrating first 45, Blyth took the lead on 43 minutes. Barlow got a touch on Mason’s cross, but could only deflect the ball into the path of Forster, whose shot was deflected past the goalkeeper and into the back of the net.
Blyth remained unchanged at the break and continued their attacking threat at the start of the second half.
By this point, Armstrong must have wondered how he did not have a hatful, as his bad luck continued after half-time. His second volley attempt was blocked on the line, before a free header at the back post – from Dale’s drilled cross – shaved the woodwork.
It was then Dale’s turn to question how he wasn’t on the score-sheet, when a knock back from Armstrong gave him time and space in the box. However, Dale wasted his opportunity at goal, as he blazed the ball over the bar.
After being denied countless times by Barlow and the Cestrian’s defence, Armstrong finally got the reward for his perseverance on 83 minutes.
Dan Groves’ free kick was chested by the front-man on the edge of the area, before he turned and unleashed a menacing volley. Barlow tried to keep it out, but the ball squirmed under the stopper and trickled over the line.
In a case of London buses, Armstrong doubled his tally in the last minute of the game, when he met Wayne Phillips’ free-kick at the back post and snuck his header in from a tight angle.
Blyth face further Northern League opposition in the form of Ashington, who travel to Croft Park this Saturday (3pm kick-off.)
Blyth Spartans: Crook (Beal 83), Groves, Cave (Purvis 88), Forster, Purvis (Slaughter 60), Buchanan, Mason (Pearson 70), Hooks (Mason 77), Armstrong, Dale (Galas 70), Phillips.