Eastwood Town 0 Blyth Spartans 2 (Match Report)

A regal performance at the Coronation Ground, crowned by two spot kicks from skipper Paul Brayson earned a welcome three points for a galvanized Blyth Spartans.

Making his debut for Blyth was goalkeeper Mark Gillespie who is on-loan from Carlisle United. The 18 year old was called upon as early as the second minute when he showed safe hands in saving a free kick from Eastwood’s Lee Stevenson.

Spartans travelling contingent were in fine voice and the players responded with some good passing football which lead to a succession of early chances. Steve Turnbull was first to warm the hands of Eastwood goalkeeper John Danby with a shot from inside the area following a neat lay off from John Alexander.

Alexander was involved in Blyth’s next attack when he played a one two with Brayson but saw his deflected effort curl wide of the post. From the resulting corner Buchanan should have opened the scoring as he rose unchallenged only to put his header over the crossbar from 8 yards.

The home side eventually came to life and after a string of passes D’Laryea found time and space to run with the ball to the edge of the box but couldn’t direct his left footed drive on target.

The conversation prior to kick off centred around the home pitch, which had a severe slope from left to right when Spartans last visited. A lot of money had been spent in the summer to rectify the problem but with Blyth’s crisp passing style it appeared to favour the visitors more.

There was still little respite for the home side as green and white shirts swarmed all over the newly laid surface. Alexander came close to connecting with a corner and Eastwood managed to scramble the ball to safety.

Blyth found the goal which merited their dominance on 27 minutes, albeit from the penalty spot. A ball was whipped in to the area towards the head of Brayson who was poised at the back post before being dragged down by Eastwood’s Markell Bailey. The Eastwood defender was shown a yellow card by the referee and Blyth’s captain dusted himself down to convert the spot kick.

As expected the home side pressed from the restart but the Blyth defence coped well by only allowing a half chance for Eastwood’s Adam Muller which Gillespie dealt with comfortably.

Blyth threatened to double their lead before half time when Brayson showed great vision to turn and play a perfect ball in to the path of Alexander who from a tight angle hit a powerful shot which was saved by the legs of Danby.

In his first start for the club Blyth’s full back Dan Groves had done well to keep the highly rated Sam Duncum quiet until the 40th minute, when the winger cut inside but failed to hit the target.

There were chances for both sides just before the break. First Brayson with a glancing header that just went wide of the upright and then at the other end Gillespie produced the save of the match from a fierce strike from Stevenson that was heading for the top corner.

Spartans manager Mick Tait would have been pleased with the first half performance but a little disappointed his team did not take a greater advantage in to the interval.

The opening 20 minutes of the second half could not live up to the high standards set in the first with Eastwood resorting to long ball tactics which the Spartans back line dealt with comfortably. Buchanan and Swailes were so dominant at the heart of the Blyth defence that the Eastwood manager substituted his strike force of Meikle and Muller 20 minutes from time.

The fresh legs gave the home side more energy and a pivotal moment came on 73 minutes when Swailes made a goal line clearance and Gillespie was on hand to smother the follow up to keep the away side in the lead.

Relief turned to joy for Blyth on 82 minutes when they were awarded their second penalty of the game. Bailey was once again the guilty party, tripping Brayson as he made a run inside the area. The Eastwood defender was shown his second yellow of the game and cut a lonely figure as he made the long walk towards the tunnel. Brayson finished coolly from the spot, sending the keeper the wrong way for his 9th goal of the season.

Blyth then had chances to add to their tally. Neal Hooks had an effort which was cleared off the line following a neat passage of play and in the final minute Alexander saw his shot tipped on to the post after good work from Dale and Groves down the right.

Mick Tait will be looking for a repeat performance from his side when bottom of the league Hyde make the journey to Croft Park on Saturday.

Blyth Spartans: Gillespie, Groves, Cave, Tait, Swailes, Buchanan, Hooks, Turnbull, Brayson (c), Alexander, O’Mahoney (Dale) Mom: Buchanan

Eastwood Town: Danby, Bailey, Riley, Simpson (c), Haggerty, Cooke, D’Laryea, Stevenson, Muller (Rhead), Meikle (Todd), Duncum. Mom: Stevenson

Posted by BSAFC Admin