Spartans suffered a gut-wrenching 1-0 defeat at the hands of table-topping Tamworth on Saturday afternoon on home turf courtesy of a 93rd minute header from Jamie Jellis.
A physical Lambs side entered the matchup sitting at the helm of the National League North standings whilst possessing an unbeaten league record on the road.
Graham Fenton’s side was entirely unchanged from the 3-0 victory over Bishop’s Stortford the previous weekend and still missed the likes of JJ Hooper, Michael Liddle and Lewis Knight due to their respective injuries.
The opening exchanges to the league clash were far from a spectacle, consisting of both sides trying to gain a foothold in possession but it presented to be a scrappy affair.
On 18 minutes, two individual moments of quality from Nicky Deverdics who utilised his awareness and technical ability to pick out Will McGowan with a back heel then saw the latter weave his way into the final third with excellent control under immense pressure from three Lambs players.
McGowan picked out JJ O’Donnell advancing on the left flank who drove in a low cross which was hesitantly cleared only as far as Cedric Main; the York City loanee then teed up Rhys Evans on the edge of the 18-yard box but his first time effort was well blocked.
Just after the half-hour mark, Main was booked, much to the surprise and complaints of the Spartans faithful in the crowd and management staff on the touchline for a foul he committed. Moments later, following a discussion between the referee and the assistant on the near side running the line just in front of the home dugout, Graham Fenton was brandished a red card.
It seemed to be a situation that added intensity to the game, as immediately following the incident, Deverdics combined with McGowan once again and the tricky maestro in midfield carved open a sight on goal to unleash a strike. Unfortunately, the left-footed effort could only sting the palms of Jas Singh in the centre of The Lambs’ goal.
Tamworth’s first shot on target came in the 42nd minute as Dempsey Arlott-John cut inside from the left flank and skimmed a low effort off the slippery Croft Park turf towards the near corner. Alex Mitchell was alert to smother at the second time of asking having struggled to grasp the ball with his initial save.
As half-time neared, a searching ball over the Spartans backline was misjudged by Harrison Clark which allowed Ty Deacon to race into the penalty area and connect first time on goal, however, a back-tracking Finn Cousin-Dawson did well to slide and divert the effort off target.
Half-time: Blyth Spartans 0-0 Tamworth
A switch at half-time proceeded for Spartans as Main was withdrawn and Harry Arnison took his place.
Blyth came out on the front foot and looked to dictate play but no clear-cut chances came to fruition.
On 50 minutes, McGowan was pulling the strings in midfield more as he curdled a sumptuous cross into the penalty area for which Jon Shaw nodded back across goal close to the byline, but the Tamworth defence remained resilient and cleared the danger.
Nathan Tskikuna produced a faint dummy to allow Jamie Jellis to run onto the ball from 20-yards out and steer a right-footed effort narrowly wide of Mitchell’s right-hand post just after the hour.
On 75 minutes, Jellis was in the thick of the action again and he advanced into the six-yard box to meet Ben Milnes’ cross from the right, however, he could not connect cleanly to trouble Mitchell from close range.
Tamworth were on the front foot once again as the game entered the final 10 minutes of the regulated 90; Milnes latched onto a bouncing ball with a powerful half-volley which required Mitchell to parry out for a corner before he tipped a header over the crossbar from the subsequent set-piece.
Spartans were just three minutes away from earning another point and a clean sheet to their tally halfway through the added six of stoppage time when Jellis emerged deep in the penalty area to convert a header into the bottom left corner to inflict a cruel ending to the fixture.
Full-time: Blyth Spartans 0-1 Tamworth
Blyth Spartans | Alex Mitchell, Rhys Evans, Harrison Clark, Finn Cousin-Dawson, Jack Bodenham, JJ O’Donnell, Jordan Hickey (Elliot Forbes, 84’), Nicky Deverdics, Will McGowan, Jon Shaw (Charlie Aitken, 60’), Cedric Main (Harry Arnison, 45’).
Subs not used | Michael Hogan and Joe Oliver
Tamworth | Jas Singh, Matt Curley, Callum Cockerill-Mollett, Kyle Finn, Ben Milnes, Ty Deacon (Alex Jones, 73’), Jamie Willets, Jordan Cullinane-Liburd, Nathan Tskikuna (Lindon Meikle, 71’), Jamie Jellis, Dempsey Arlott-John (Kai Williams, 64’).
Subs not used | Brad Gascgoine and Callum Reilly
Goals | Jamie Jellis 90+3’
Referee | Alex Sawden
Attendance | 608
|2||Shots on target||5|
|1 (Graham Fenton)||Red cards||0|
Spartans next face an away trip to Darlington on Tuesday evening in National League North action.