Match Report | Blyth Spartans 0-0 Buxton


By Glen Maxwell

In association with:
Chartered Management Accountant

Evo-Stik Premier League
Saturday December 3 2016

Blyth Spartans 0-0 Buxton

A dominant Blyth Spartans were unable to break down fellow Evo-Stik Premier League promotion hopefuls Buxton, even though Alun Armstrong’s side played 50 minutes with only ten men.

Two first half yellow cards saw Damen Mullen receive his marching orders with six minutes remaining before the break.

Both sides hit the woodwork through Luke Armstrong and Buxton substitute Nicky Walker, but Spartans couldn’t convert their dominance into three valuable points in this promotion “six-pointer.”

Armstrong opted to name new loan signing David Atkinson at right-back for what was an important league meeting between two of the league’s top four sides. The on-loan Carlisle United defender’s debut meant that Andrew Cartwright was dropped to the bench for Blyth’s first game in 10 days.

And the hosts looked right up for this vital league clash – as they carved Buxton open within the first two minutes.

A fantastic cross-field ball from Matty Pattison allowed Robert Dale to swing in an equally impressive cross from the right which looked to have picked out Daniel Maguire. Unfortunately for the home side, the ball fizzed just over the striker’s head when free in the area.

The Croft Park faithful soon had their hearts in their mouths though – as Niall Doran caught out Michael Liddle in possession and tried to stroke a through ball into the path of Bradley Grayson. An untimely slip from Ryan Hutchinson appeared to have presented a chance for the forward, but “Hutchy” was able to adjust himself on the way down and hack the ball away with a vital interception.

The 15-minute mark saw a flurry of chances for Spartans, with two looking close to breaking the deadlock. Maguire had a shot blocked by Danny Burns, before Armstrong forced Jan Budtz to save with his legs from a narrow angle.

Maguire then had two good chances within the next five minutes. His first effort was headed away by Greg Young, before he took down Hutchinson’s long ball well and fired wide first time.

Blyth had enjoyed the better of the opening 20 minutes and should have gone ahead 60 seconds later – after some fantastic perseverance from Armstrong.

Pattison rolled a controlled ball into the box from 18-yards, which ran through the a crowd of Buxton bodies and seemed to be heading straight for Budtz. Armstrong raced in and poked the ball past the goalkeeper, but the ball bounced off the foot of the upright and evaded the path of Maguire following in.

Spartans continued their dominance for most of the rest of the half, but the momentum swung completely with six minutes to go before the break – as Blyth were reduced to ten men.

Mullen – who had already been booked for a cynical challenge on halfway to prevent a Buxton break – mis-timed a challenge on Alastair Taylor on the edge of the Blyth box, which forced referee Rebecca Welch to show him a second yellow and an early dismissal.

And things could have got a lot worse for the hosts from the resulting free-kick.

Green stepped up and rattled the post, which caused the ball to then ricochet off the back of Paul Woolston’s hand. Somehow, that touch caused the ball to go behind for just a corner and save Spartans yet more misery before the break.

Blyth fans were soon shouting for a red card themselves with only moments left of the first half, when Pattison won a free-kick in from of the Ferguson Stand. Taylor lashed out at the ball and appeared to catch the former Newcastle United midfielder with his kick, but Welch opted just to have a word with the winger.

There was still time for Grayson to get in during the one minute of added time, but he slipped over at the vital moment. Having recovered enough to pick the ball back up on the left under pressure from Woolston, his efforts were in vain – as his cross was smashed well over the bar by Doran, to howls of laughter from the home support.

Ricky Ravenhill had been lucky to escape the book in the first half and anyone outside of Croft Park would have been mistaken for thinking that Blyth had took the lead in the 48th minute – as his eventual booking for a foul on Dale was met by raucous cheers from the Spartan army.

Buxton looked to make their man advantage count after the break and twice went close to asserting their dominance six minutes into the start of the second 45. Grayson’s shot on the turn was blocked behind by Nathan Buddle, before Doran fired well wide again from the resulting corner.

Joel Bembo-Leta then held the ball up well in the box and laid it off well to Grayson, but the forward could only curl one wide across goal.

Spartans raced straight down to the other end from Woolston’s restart and Armstrong was picked out well in the area. The 20-year-old turned and fired low at goal, but his strike was blocked behind for a corner.

Another corner just before the hour mark saw Pattison pick out Hutchinson at the far post. Despite the defender getting a foot on the ball, he was unable to get enough of a touch to divert it in.

Buxton looked to profit from that wastefulness a minute later, but Taylor fired wide from close range.

The visitors continued to crank up the pressure and Blyth twice had their talismanic captain to thank for keeping the scores level. Dale first hacked Bembo-Leta’s goalbound touch away from goal, before heading Grayson’s shot off the line a minute later.

Dale started to make the game all about himself – as he raced through the Buxton half less than two minutes after his defensive heroics. The winger shot across Budtz from 20 yards, but the goalkeeper was able to palm the ball away to safety.

Maguire had a shot deflected behind 60 seconds later, with that corner leading to a penalty shout for the home side. Buddle headed Dale’s cross back across goal and Spartans were shouting for the use of a hand in cushioning the ball down, but Welch ignored the pleas for a spot-kick.

Despite being a man down, Blyth continued to carry on their momentum with 20 minutes to go. Maguire tried to pick out the head of Armstrong in the area, but the ball was just too high for the youngster.

Buxton weren’t letting the hosts have it all their own way though, as Brad Abbott struck a fierce effort at goal. Woolston was never really troubled by it though, as he held comfortably.

Blyth had the ball in the back of the net with ten minutes to go – after Buddle’s looping header was collected by Budtz and taken over his own line. However, Welch saw an infringement from Dale challenging for the aerial ball and booked the Blyth man.

Two minutes later, Pattison spotted Budtz off his line and tried to catch him out with a strike from deep. The stopper was stretching, but was able to get hands on the ball to divert it away from goal.

With three important points at stake for both sides, they were both going all out for a winner and Buxton rattled the woodwork themselves with five minutes to go. Substitute Walker shot across Woolston, but the ball hit the upright with Blyth’s keeper beaten.

Walker’s fellow sub then thought he’d scored when he nodded on Abbott’s free-kick mere yards from goal. It was unclear how much Woolston knew about it, but he was able to get his body behind it with an instinctive stop to ensure the two sides finished level.

Blyth now face a trip to Vanarama National League North side Altrincham in the FA Trophy, with a home tie against Macclesfield Town on offer for the winners.

Blyth Spartans: Woolston, Atkinson, Liddle (Pell 90+4), Mullen, Buddle, Hutchinson, Pattison, Turnbull, Maguire, Armstrong (Rivers 81), Dale.
Subs not used: Wade, Reid, Cartwright.

Buxton: Budtz, Williams (Walker 65), Green, Ravenhill, Burns, Young, Doran, Abbott, Grayson, Bembo-Leta, Taylor (Jackson 74).
Subs not used: Everington, Bembo-Leta, Wilkinson.

Attendance: 573

Referee: Rebecca Welch

Spartans Man of the Match: Robert Dale

Posted by BSAFC Media Team