By Glen Maxwell
In association with:
ALAN McLEAN FCMA CGMA
Chartered Management Accountant
Emirates FA Cup Second Qualifying Round
Saturday September 16 2017
Blyth Spartans 1-2 Shaw Lane AFC
Blyth Spartans succumbed to an Emirates FA Cup shock of their own on Saturday – as Shaw Lane AFC profited from their persistent time-wasting to score in second half stoppage time and claim a 2-1 win at Croft Park.
Paul Clayton opened the scoring for the visitors on six minutes – as Blyth went into the break behind. Substitute Adam Wrightson then smashed home on 57 minutes, to give the Spartans hope of another run in England’s premier cup competition.
However, those hopes were dashed by the time-wasting antics of Ducks’ goalkeeper John Stewart – whose actions saw the five minutes of added time extended. That allowed substitute Damien Reeves the chance to head into an empty net on 96 minutes – after a defensive mix-up between Peter Jameson and Nathan Buddle – and consign Spartans to a second successive Emirates FA Cup Second Qualifying Round exit.
After beating Chorley 2-0 to extend their winning Vanarama National League North run to four games on Tuesday night, the hosts named an unchanged side for the visit of the Evo-Stik Premier League newcomers.
The first action of the game saw Andrew Cartwright go into the book on two minutes – after a rash challenge on Ryan Serrant, to give the visitors a free kick on the left wing. Robert Dale was there to head away to clear the danger though.
Shaw Lane put together some nice intricate passing in the first five minutes, but with no real end product. That changed as the clock struck six minutes, however – as they took the lead with their first real chance of the contest.
Serrant profited from Dean Watson’s decision to play advantage following a Blyth foul on halfway and flew down the left wing. The left-back delivered a pinpoint cross into the near post and Clayton was there to nod past Jameson to put the Ducks ahead.
Spartans had to wait until ten minutes in before they found themselves in a goalscoring position for the first time. Dale Hopson floated in a free kick towards a leaping Daniel Maguire, but Shaw Lane captain Ryan Qualter got there ahead of the striker to head clear.
Like the proverbial London buses, they then had another chance 60 seconds later. Dale beat two and then tried to lift one over Stewart – looking for the top corner – but the ball went well wide of goal.
With 13 minutes gone, Jameson had to be at his best to stop Shaw Lane from going two goals up. Alex Byrne tried his luck from the edge of the area, but a strong-handed diving save from the former Darlington stopper denied him what looked to be a certain goal.
Watson’s book was busy once again just after the opening quarter of an hour, when Buddle won a 50/50 challenge in midfield. The Blyth centre-back was then caught late by Dominic Brown-Hill, who received a yellow card despite his best attempts at staying down for treatment.
Spartans had rallied after their early setback and looked to have got back on level terms, when Hopson played in Jarrett Rivers and his touch put two defenders to ground. His next touch saw the ball run into the path of Maguire, but the striker’s left-footed shot on the turn from eight yards was saved instinctively by Stewart.
Byrne had obviously not been disheartened by his earlier denial by Jameson – as he tried another shot from distance on 20 minutes. The Blyth keeper wasn’t called upon this time though, with the ball flying just off target.
Shaw Lane went close from a corner two minutes later, but the ball was cleared out as far as Nicky Walker. The left winger unleashed a fierce drive from inside the area, but it was blocked behind at the expense of a corner.
Maguire was looking to score for the fifth successive game in all competitions and it looked like he might achieve that on 36 minutes, when Dale crossed in towards the far post from the left. ‘Nipa’ leapt to meet the ball, but it sailed just over the top of his head.
A short set-piece routine involving Hopson, Sean Reid and Damen Mullen saw the latter test Stewart from 40 yards. The keeper leapt high to his right to claim the ball, but it was a save “for the cameras.”
Maguire had a shot blocked behind on 39 minutes, but the Croft Park faithful thought their side had scored an equaliser from the resulting corner. The ball in found the head of Ryan Hutchinson, but Stewart showed great awareness to tip the ball over.
Another blocked shot – this time from Dale – saw the ball finds way to a free Rivers inside the visitor’s box, with four minutes of the first half to go. The winger hesitated and then opted to cross instead of shoot, but the ball was hacked away by a defender.
Walker broke through one-on-one just a minute later and looked certain to double the Ducks’ advantage. Jameson rushed out and dived at his feet, plucking the ball off his toes perfectly to deny the winger before he could get his shot away.
There was still time for another Spartans attack before the break, when a mazy Dale run allowed the Blyth captain into the area. He was able to reclaim the ball after his initial shot was blocked, but his second attempt – from slightly further out – was claimed easily by the keeper, to see the home side go in trailing.
The opening exchanges of the second half failed to live up to the standards, with a concussion to Rivers on 51 minutes being the only real thing of note from the first ten minutes after the restart.
That would all change with the hour mark approaching though – as a great Blyth break saw Rivers’ replacement Wrightson put them level within six minutes of his introduction.
Dale drove forward from halfway, before spreading the ball out wide to Hopson on the right. The former Whitby Town midfielder played a fantastic cross into the area, which Wrightson duly smashed past Stewart and into the back of the net.
Wrightson then released Hopson down the right four minutes later, but any repeat of Blyth’s first goal was denied by a low header from Qualter at the near post from Hopson’s ball in.
It took until the 67th minute for Shaw Lane to advance forward into the Blyth box again, when Walker got in down the left. He horribly ballooned a shot high and wide under pressure from Buddle, much to the dismay of the away dugout.
Spartans really should have taken the lead with 20 minutes to go, when Ian Watson drilled a peach of a cross in towards the six-yard box. Reid beat his man in the air, but could only head the ball over the bar.
The Ducks had the chance to test Jameson once again five minutes later, when they were awarded a free kick 25 yards from goal. Byrne stepped up to strike the central set-piece, but the Blyth keeper saved well away to his right.
Lewis Horner – who had taken the place of Reid – tried his luck five minutes after coming on, but the substitute saw his shot blocked into the path of Dale. The talismanic winger tried once more to curl one around Stewart and inside the far post, but the ball missed its intended target.
Dale released Wrightson down the right on 83 minutes, but Blyth’s goalscorer saw his cross blocked by Serrant. He tried again from the rebound, but got too much on it and was unable to find fellow substitute David McTiernan at the back post.
Horner curled one from distance looking to catch Stewart cold with three minutes to go, but the Ducks’ stopper was able to collect it comfortably.
With both sides trying their best to avoid a replay, Damien Reeves got in at the near post a minute later and dispatched a cheeky flick on at the near post that could have claimed the tie for the visitors. However, it went wide of the opposite upright to the relief of Jameson.
Horner then had two chances to test Stewart in the five announced minutes of second half added time, but his header failed to really test Stewart. He really should have done better with his second one when one-on-one though, but opted to shoot from further out than he could have and hit the ball straight at the keeper.
Alun Armstrong’s side would go onto rue that latter wasted Horner chance four minutes later – after Stewart’s continuous time-wasting antics saw the clock turn over into the 96th minute.
Following a mix-up in communication that saw Buddle leave a hopeful ball forward for Jameson, the keeper raced out to collect the clearance on the wing that he was never favourite for. That allowed Walker to cross into Reeves, who had the simple task of heading into an empty net to send Spartans crashing out of this season’s Emirates FA Cup in horrible circumstances.
Blyth will look to return to winning ways in the Vanarama National League North next Saturday, when they travel to former Football League side Kidderminster Harriers for a 3pm start.
Blyth Spartans: Jameson, Cartwright, I Watson, Reid (Horner 71), Buddle, Hutchinson, Rivers (Wrightson 51), Mullen, Maguire, Hopson (McTiernan 78), Dale.
Subs not used: Butler, Liddle, Laidler, MacDonald.
Shaw Lane AFC: Stewart, Austin, Serrant, Brown-Hill (Reeves 70), Lugsden, Qualter, Byrne, Harris, Clayton, Norris, Walker.
Subs not used: Chilika, Hough, Bacon.
Referee: Dean Watson
Spartans Man of the Match: Adam Wrightson