Match Report | Blyth Spartans 1-1 Worksop Town | Emirates FA Cup Third Qualifying Round | 2023/24

By Liam Rafferty

Graham Fenton’s side bounced back to claim a draw in the third qualifying round of the Emirates FA Cup on Saturday afternoon against Worksop Town as an own goal cancelled out Liam Hughes’ deadlock-breaking strike for The Tigers.

Harrison Clark and Jordan Hickey were restored to the starting line-up which saw JJ O’Donnell and JJ Hooper feature on the bench; the pair were second half substitutes and made a positive impact. Rhys Evans was introduced at half-time in place of Joe Oliver for his first appearance since suffering injury away to Chester.

Blyth struggled to find a compelling rhythm in the first half as Worksop claimed the vast amount of possession and also had the first big chance of the game. In the seventh minute, a whipped corner was swung in which was met by Vaughan Redford’s head, but thankfully for Spartans, it sailed over the crossbar. 

A few moments later, Spartans had won a free-kick just outside the box when Cedric Main had been dragged down. Captain Nicky Deverdics stepped up but his strike from 25-yards hit the defensive wall. 

Liam Hughes and Hamza Bencherif both had opportunities to find the opening goal in quick succession after the half-hour mark as they both sent headed efforts wide of the mark from close range before Terry Hawkridge curled a free-kick from 30-yards off target. 

The next clear-cut piece of action occurred five minutes from half-time, Alex Mitchell pulled off a fantastic save as he readjusted utilising his reflexes to palm away Hughes’ header which looked certain to nestle in the bottom corner of his goal.

On the stroke of half-time, a neat chipped pass from Deverdics looked to have set Main clear on goal, but a resolute recovery from Bencherif deflected the York City loanee’s strike allowing for a routine stop to be made by Paul Cooper.

Half-time: Blyth Spartans 0-0 Worksop Town

A reinvigorated Spartans came out to try and prove a point as they controlled possession from the whistle commencing the second period. That patient possession and build-up play translated into a curled shot from Deverdics flying over the crossbar following Main’s layoff with his back to goal.

Deverdics and Jordan Hickey combined with a swift interchange of play on the left flank before the latter’s cross was diverted inches wide by Main from point-blank range.

However, despite controlling the opening exchanges of the second half, Hughes emerged in the penalty area to slot away a loose ball into the back of the net after Jay Rollins worked himself to the byline with great persistence to put The Tigers ahead in the 52nd minute.

Will McGowan was influential with his footwork for the goal as his eventual dinked ball had found Michael Liddle, who headed it onto substitute JJ O’Donnell, who then saw his initial strike saved by Paul Cooper before the follow-up was clawed away onto a visiting defender and ended up in the back of the net for the equaliser in the 70th minute. 

Five minutes later, Spartans thought they had a winner and a turnaround all but complete when fellow substitute JJ Hooper drove through on goal beating a defender to round Cooper and convert in front of the F Southern stand, however, amidst celebrations, following a conversation between the referee and the assistant on the near side, a delayed offside was given causing agony for Graham Fenton’s side.

With seven minutes left on the clock, Jack Bodenham rose highest in the visitors box to head Hickey’s corner on goal, however, his attempt was blocked before Hooper steered the rebound agonisingly wide from close range. 

O’Donnell found himself in the thick of the action as full-time edged ever so near. Firstly, on 85 minutes, he cut inside from the right flank and hit a dangerous, dipping strike on goal which forced Cooper to tip over the crossbar. With just one minute of the regulated 90 left to play, he connected with a loose ball inside the penalty area but sent his effort wide. 

Full-time: Blyth Spartans 1-1 Worksop Town

Blyth Spartans | Alex Mitchell, Joe Oliver (Rhys Evans 46′), Harrison Clark (JJ Hooper, 55′), Finn Cousin-Dawson, Jack Bodenham, Michael Liddle, Jordan Hickey, Elliot Forbes, Nicky Deverdics, Will McGowan, Cedric Main (JJ O’Donnell, 57′).

Subs not used | Jon Shaw and Harry Arnison

Goals | Own goal 70′

Worksop Town | Paul Cooper, Deegan Atherton, Josh Wilde, Vaughan Redford, Hamza Bencherif, George Taft, Terry Hawkridge (Aleks Starcenko, 88′), Paul Green, Luke Hall, Liam Hughes, Jay Rollins (Sam Wedgebury, 68′).

Subs not used | Ben Tomlinson, Rostik Yaremenko, Colin Daniel and James Hanson.

Goals | Liam Hughes 52′

Attendance | 738

Referee | Helen Conway

Blyth SpartansStatsWorksop Town
2Shots on target3
6Blocked shots2
8Fouls committed6
2Yellow cards2
0Red cards0
Stats by Freddie Chandler
Graham Fenton’s post-match assessment of the 1-1 draw against Worksop Town

Next up for Spartans is a replay on Tuesday evening away to Worksop Town in the third qualifying round of the Emirates FA Cup.

Posted by BSAFC Media Team