Despite news of Rob Dale’s departure sweeping around Croft Park prior to kick-off his former teammates didn’t allow off field issues to distract them as Blyth Spartans strolled to a convincing victory over neighbours Ashington.
Graeme Armstrong has been an imperious figure for Blyth throughout this pre season and looks likely to replace Dale as the club’s talisman, with another two goals and a fine display against The Colliers doing his cause no harm. Phil cave and Lee Mason also got their names on the score sheet in a one sided affair.
Spartans created the first chance when Mason teed up Armstrong in the area whose shot was deflected over by James Taylor. From the resultant corner Armstrong was involved again but couldn’t keep his effort down from 14 yards.
The hosts made the breakthrough on 17 minutes when Adam Forster’s long ball found Armstrong who slotted it coolly past Stephen Graham.
The visitors created their only chance of the first half through Darren Lough whose deflected shot was well held by debutant goalkeeper Mathew Crooks.
Armstrong, in confident mood, then attempted an audacious chip from the edge of the area which failed to trouble Graham.
In a sublime passage of play Cave played a quick one two with Forster down the left but saw his low shot saved by Graham.
Blyth doubled their lead two minutes after the interval with Armstrong scoring his second of the afternoon with a neat finish following a scramble in the area.
Neal Hooks then had a decent penalty appeal turned down on the hour mark when he appeared to be pulled back in the area. Spartans were awarded a penalty, however, seven minutes later for a handball offence by Taylor. Cave stepped up to send Graham the wrong way and put his side three ahead.
Mason wrapped up a convincing display by the hosts on 72 minutes when he made a surging run through the heart of the Ashington defence and slotted the ball past Graham.
Ashington almost scored a consolation at the death but Gareth Bainbridge failed to find a way past Kyle Barlow in the Blyth goal.
Blyth Spartans: Crooks, Groves, Cave, Slaughter, Coulson, Buchanan, Pearson, Hooks, Armstrong, Forster, Mason
Rolling subs: Galas, Barlow, Vipond
Referee: Tony Young