Match Report | Blyth Spartans 1-2 Darlington FC | National League North | 2023/34

Blyth Spartans’ winless run extended to 10 games in all competitions after a 2-1 defeat at home to Darlington.

Matty Cornish put the visitors ahead after 12 minutes and Cameron Salkeld doubled their lead in the 65th minute. Zanda Siziba pulled one back for Blyth in the 89th minute, but it was too late for the Spartans to produce a comeback.

The Spartans made just one change from Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to King’s Lynn Town as Finn Cousin-Dawson returned to the starting lineup following his suspension as he replaced Joe Oliver.

The first chance of the game fell for Michael Liddle as he latched onto Rhys Evans cross, but his strike was hit over the crossbar.

Again Evans was advanced on the right flank and whipped the ball into Harry Gardiner who managed to chest control the ball down before rifling a low shot goalwards, which was saved by Matty Young.

Immediately after, Darlington went forward and scored after  long range strike from ex-Spartan Matty Cornish.

Blyth continued to attack as McGowan whipped a ball in which was flicked goalwards by a Darlington defender as Young produced an amazing save to prevent an own goal.

Then, Deverdics floated in a free kick which Malakai Reeve got his head to, unfortunately he wasn’t able to get much power onto the header as it became an easy save for Young.

Just after the half-hour mark the Spartans were on the attack again as McGowan took a right-footed shot from the edge of the box which drove forward towards Gardiner who tried to flick the ball goalwards.

Jordan Cook was forced off after 40 minutes through a suspected shoulder injury and was replaced by Luke James.

Half-time: Blyth Spartans 0-1 Darlington

The Quakers started the second half on the front foot as a corner was swung in only for Finn Cousin-Dawson to head it clear and behind for another corner which came to nothing.

Soon after Tom Platt struck the ball from the edge of the box with power, but Reeve blocked the shot and diverted the ball behind for a corner, which again came to nothing.

Just before the hour mark McGowan took a strike from 25-yards out, but his effort was hit astray and Darlington’s goalkeeper Young was shown a yellow card for time wasting just after.

Cornish took advantage of Deverdics’ mistake and drove forward before switching the ball right as he found Mitchell Curry, who drove into the box before slashing a shot across the face of goal.

The Quakers doubled their lead after 65 minutes as Cameron Salkeld skipped past Reeve before slotting the ball in the bottom right corner.

Blyth continued to strive forward as Evans’ powerful strike was tipped over the bar by Young. The resulting corner was immediately ruled as a foul on Young and Cousin-Dawson was cautioned for dissent.

The two substitutes linked up for Spartans as JJ Hooper cushioned the ball down for Zanda Siziba, but Siziba was dispossessed just as he was about to strike the ball.

With just one minute of regulation time left Siziba pulled on back for the Spartans with a powerful finish from six yards out after an initial save from Young denying Cousin-Dawson’s header effort. The fourth official then indicated five minutes of added time.

In the last minute of added time the Spartans had a flurry of chances and a penalty shout, but they weren’t able to find an equaliser as Darlington emerged 2-1 winners.

Full-time: Blyth Spartans 1-2 Darlington

Blyth Spartans | Alex Mitchell, Rhys Evans, Michael Liddle (Zanda Siziba 71’), Finn Cousin-Dawson, Jack Bodenham, Jordan Cook (Luke James 40’), Elliot Forbes (JJ Hooper 55’), Nicky Deverdics ©, Will McGowan, Harry Gardiner, Malakai Reeve

Subs not used | Jordan Hickey, Joe Oliver

Goals | Zanda Siziba 89’

Darlington | Matty Young, Kallum Griffiths, Toby Lees, Scott Barlow, Ben Hedley, Tom Platt ©, Will Hatfield, Cameron Salkeld, Matty Cornish (Hayden Lindsey 74’), Mitchell Curry (Jarrett Rivers 65’), Cedric Main (Joe Gibson 87’)

Subs not used | Tommy Taylor, Jake Lawlor

Goals | Matty Cornish 12’, Cameron Salkeld 65’

Attendance | 1139

Referee | Darius Bradley

Spartans next face off against Southport at The Big Help Stadium on Saturday, March 16, 2024, with a 3 pm kick-off.

Posted by Ben Lightfoot