FC United of Manchester 2-1 Blyth Spartans

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FC United of Manchester 2-1 Blyth Spartans
Saturday 23rd March
Gigg Lane
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League
Attendance: 1730

If points were given out for discipline and organisation then Tom Wade would be celebrating leading his Blyth Spartans side to three consecutive wins as they put on a heartening show in front of an impressive travelling band of the Green Army against FC United of Manchester. However two late lapses of concentration cost Spartans dear as two goals in two minutes meant that the Rebels took all three points and did the double over Spartans in the process. Joe Kendrick has scored for the second consecutive week to put his side ahead but goals from Mike Norton and substitute Tom Greaves ensured FC United emerged victorious in front of a crowd of 1730.

It was a change of formation for Spartans as Wade and new coach John Cornforth opted for a five man midfield with in-form striker Daniel Maguire given the lone front man role. Mark Cook replaced Conor Grant between the sticks making his Spartans debut in the process and Craig Hubbard came into midfield and Phil Airey reverted to full back to cover for the unavailable Damen Mullen.

It was the home side who had the first chance of the game in the tenth minute as an Astley Mulholland cross was headed to the edge of the box by Spartans skipper Wayne Buchanan. Rebels full back Dean Stott latched on to the loose ball and after composing himself he could only curl a twenty yard effort just past Cook’s far post. That miss was to prove costly for the hosts as within a minute Spartans were ahead. The ever willing Daniel Maguire harassed Adam Jones into conceding a corner thanks to his persistence. Stephen Turnbull took the flag kick and he found the head of Joe Kendrick who headed home his seventh goal of the season from ten yards.

The game turned into a war of attrition soon after the opener and Spartans hard work and determination was frustrating the home side who looked increasingly desperate as the half went on. Efforts from distance from Jerome Wright and Matthew Wolfenden were all the Rebels had to show for their efforts as debutant keeper Cook went largely untested. Five minutes before the interval came the final chance of the half as midfielder Sam Fitzgerald fired wide from the edge of the box and Spartans went into the break a goal to the good and that was well deserved for their stubbornness.

Both sides exchanged chances at the start of the second half as the once again impressive Maguire span past his marker and struck a low left footed effort that was easily saved by James Spencer and Mulholland curled just past Cook’s far post for the home side. The game would then follow an all too familiar pattern for the home side as they enjoyed plenty of possession but were being frustrated by a hardworking Spartans side with the midfield three of Hooks, Turnbull and in particular Craig Hubbard pressing the Rebel all over the park.

Spartans came within a whisker of doubling their lead twelve minutes from time and it was to be the turning point of the game. Robbie Dale embarrassed Rebels full back Neville and curled a wonderful left footed effort from the angle of the box but saw his effort hit the bar and go over. If that effort went in then there can be no question Spartans would have ventured back to Northumberland with all three points but their resistance was to be broken two minutes later. A ball into the area saw Airey clear but he could only find the edge of the box, Rebels substitute Carlos Roca managed to find Mike Norton who was left with a simple finish six yards out and made no mistake putting his side on level terms.

Within two minutes they were in front and it was Roca again at the heart of the action. An overhit cross found the winger on the right side of the Spartans area and his cross bobbled into the net and agonisingly past the outstretched arms of Cook via FC United substitute Tom Greaves. Spartans rallied for an equaliser as the full time whistle drew closer. An Airey free kick into the box found the home side’s keeper Spencer flapping and the loose ball ran to Lee Mason but his volley went harmlessly over the bar and with a minute of the four minutes added on left a Dale cross shot was headed clear by Jones as it seemed set to drop into the far post. Within seconds though referee Haycock blew the final whistle and ensured that the home side took all three points.

Although Spartans come away with no points it was a day that everyone connected with the club can look back on with a lot of pride. For Wade, Cornforth and the players they can look back upon a disciplined and organised display that has been been rarely matched this season. Whilst the travelling Green Army turned up in their masses and have to take great credit for their continued and not to mention very vocal backing of the team.

Spartans Man of the Match: Craig Hubbard

FC United : Spencer, Stott, Neville, Birch, Jones, Grey(Roca 59), Mulholland(Greaves 71), Fitzgerald(Giggs 80), Norton, Wright, Wolfenden Subs not used: Tierney, Rodriguez Goalscorers Norton 80, Greaves 81

Blyth Spartans: Cook, Slaughter, Airey, Buchanan, Kendrick, Mason, Turnbull(Berj 83), Hooks(Jennings 82), Dale, Maguire, Hubbard Subs not used: Grant, Mellish, Stanger Goalscorers: Kendrick 11

Referee: Ken Haycock

Posted by BSAFC Admin

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