Match Report | Blyth Spartans 0-0 Spennymoor Town

Croft Park press box
By Glen Maxwell

In association with:
ALAN McLEAN FCMA CGMA

Chartered Management Accountant

Evo-Stik Premier League
Tuesday September 27 2016

Blyth Spartans 0-0 Spennymoor Town

Blyth Spartans and Spennymoor Town were unable to be separated in a scrappy 0-0 draw in this Evo-Stik Premier League clash – as the home side ended their three-game losing streak in new manager Alun Armstrong’s first match in charge.

Both sides had plenty of chances to claiming all three points, but neither Peter Jeffries nor former Spartans stopper Dan Lowson came close to losing their clean sheets.

Unfortunately for Blyth though, they also saw star striker Daniel Maguire succumb to a calf injury that forced off the club’s top scorer so far this season in the first half.

The new Spartans boss took charge of the club for the first time and stamped his mark straight on the team sheet, by opting to play 4-4-2 – as opposed to the 4-3-3 preferred by his predecessor Tom Wade. That meant that A Armstrong brought son Luke Armstrong back in for his second start of the season, to lead the line alongside Daniel Maguire.

And it was L Armstrong putting himself about in the box that lead to Blyth’s first chance of the evening.

Michael Liddle tried to pick out L Armstrong at the back post, but it was headed away before he could connect with it. The clearance went only as far as Sean Reid at the edge of the area, but the midfielder could only hit his first-time effort wide.

Glen Taylor – a Spartans centre-forward during the 2011/12 relegation season – made a return to Croft Park and must have thought his luck was in, when a bobbling through ball presented him with the perfect opportunity to open the scoring for Spennymoor.

Unluckily for the former Spartan, however, the ball was still bobbling when he went to shoot. Therefore, he failed to test Peter Jeffries from a few yards out, when he really should have.

Both sides were trying to take the initiative in an entertaining opening 15 minutes and it was the hosts that twice went closest to breaking the deadlock.

First, Jarrett Rivers laid the ball off for Michael Liddle to fire just over across goal from the edge of the area. Two minutes later, Rivers turned former Gateshead defender James Curtis inside and out, but could only fire over after cutting back inside once more.

Just as it looked as if Blyth were settling into their groove, Maguire went down in the Town area with a calf injury. Despite being able to walk off the pitch, he was unable to continue and made way for Michael Richardson – as Robert Dale moved forward to fill the space vacated by “Nipa.”

Spennymoor certainly weren’t here to just make the numbers up and they forced a series of blocks from the Spartans defence just prior to the half-hour mark, before Robert Ramshaw fired horribly wide when he was found free at the edge of the area.

The visitors then enjoyed a sustained spell of possession six minutes later, that nearly presented Spennymoor with a glorious chance. Taylor was once again gearing himself up to try his luck from a few yards out, but Nathan Buddle raced over to dive at his feet and deny him a shot at goal.

With the first half drawing to a close, L Armstrong was presented with another chance to put his father’s side ahead. Dale found him with a hard cross from the right but – instead of opting to shoot first-time – the 20-year-old tried to take a touch to set himself and didn’t have the time to get a shot away.

Blyth came straight back out the blocks after the restart, when young forward L Armstrong appeared to beat the offside trap within the first two minutes of the second half. Closing down on Lowson’s goal, he was only stopped in his tracks by the assistant’s raised flag.

Dale was next to go for a run from midfield – as he danced through Town’s half unopposed. The Spartans captain got himself into the box and shot with the outside of his foot, but his curling effort across goal was blocked behind.

Jamie Chandler – another ex-Gateshead player in the Spennymoor ranks – tried to emulate Dale but go one better soon after – as he approached the Blyth box with the ball at his feet. Despite being in unfamiliar territory at the back, midfielder Pattison stopped him dead with a fantastic challenge to bring a halt to the danger.

With less than 20 minutes to go, it was Blyth who came within inches of breaking the deadlock. L Armstrong’s drilled cross looked destined for the head of Richardson, who tried his best to head in, but the ball just escaped him.

Moors had a real chance to continue Spartans’ run of conceding late goals when Craig Gott swung a free-kick into substitute Graeme Armstrong – another mis-firing striker from Spartans’ relegation season. However, in a familiar sight to most inside Croft Park during that ill-fated spell, he ballooned his header wide when free in the area.

Spennymoor were finishing the stronger of the two sides and another golden opportunity came from Gott feeding G Armstrong from a free-kick two minutes later.

This time, however, the forward nodded the ball on to Shane Henry, who was free at the edge of the box. The midfielder opted to meet the ball with a shot, but fired wide when he really should have scored.

Following that, both sides were happy to see out the game’s final few moments to share the spoils in a fiercely contested top-of-the-table clash.

With Spartans’ exit from this season’s Emirates FA Cup meaning they have a free Saturday, the new gaffer now has a full week to get his side prepared for the visit of Warrington Town next Tuesday.

Blyth Spartans: Jeffries, Cartwright, Liddle, Buddle, Hutchinson, Pattison, Rivers (Nicholson 69), Reid, Maguire (Richardson 23), L Armstrong, Dale.
Subs not used: Wade, Caines, Bell.

Spennymoor Town: Lowson, Griffiths, Mason, Chandler, Curtis, Swain, Ramshaw (Johnson 78), Henry, Taylor (G Armstrong 72), Fisher (Dowson 63), Gott.
Subs not used: Tait, Rafferty.

Attendance: 818

Spartans Man of the Match: Andrew Cartwright

Posted by Glen Maxwell