Spartans surrendered their perfect National League North home record and unbeaten beginning to the campaign at Croft Park on Saturday afternoon as Alfreton Town secured three points to take back to Derbyshire.
Liam Waldock, Lewis Salmon and Kennedy Digie put the visitors up three goals to the good before York City loanee Cedric Main pulled back a consolation strike in stoppage time of the second half.
Nicky Deverdics returned to the starting line-up for his first appearance since recovering from injury. At the same time, Jordan Hickey also featured in the fixture, returning from his own respective knee injury, as he replaced JJ O’Donnell in the 55th minute.
Following a stop-and-start opening five minutes to the encounter, the first clear-cut opportunity fell to Nicky Deverdics 20-yards out from goal. Cedric Main cut the ball back from the left in the attacking third for Will McGowan on the edge of the box, he then teed up Deverdics for a first-time strike which rose just over the crossbar on 7 minutes.
Moments later, the visitors found themselves in front as a long throw-in from Adam Lund was failed to be cleared between JJ O’Donnell’s initial header and the second ball bouncing awkwardly off Elliot Forbes which allowed Liam Waldock to emerge and hammer an effort into the roof of the net.
On 13 minutes, Main set Michael Liddle to the byline with a searching pass before the Spartans left-back swung in a cross for where JJ Hooper was lurking in the box. Hooper hammered his header down into the ground, though, seeing it bounce over the crossbar.
Two minutes later, Main was fouled 25-yards out from goal which presented an excellent opportunity for Deverdics to strike a free-kick on target. However, a curling left-footed effort from the Spartans captain fell agonisingly wide of George Willis’ right-hand post.
Alex Mitchell was called into an innovative, low stop with his foot to deny Lewis Salmon from point-blank range as he was set through on goal; the ball then rebounded back to the Alfreton attacker which was diverted wide to Graham Fenton’s side’s delight.
Just before the half-hour mark, an enticing corner from Deverdics picked out an unmarked Hooper at the back post whose header rippled the side netting with many Spartan fans believing the equalising goal had been found.
Unfortunately, the one-goal deficit doubled on 41 minutes, though, as Salmon imposed himself at the far post to rise above Finn Cousin-Dawson and nod the ball into the back of the net, converting William Fewster’s inviting cross.
Half-time: Blyth Spartans 0-2 Alfreton Town
The scoreline was extended to three on 53 minutes as Kennedy Digie won the ball on the halfway line and drove forward with pace before slotting a low strike beyond the outstretched Mitchell.
Spartans aimed to up their intent but struggled to make the pivotal amends to the damage which had been inflicted thus far; McGowan played an intricate chipped pass into the penalty area on 65 minutes for where Hooper was advancing, but he failed to make a clean contact which flicked the ball wide of the mark.
An in-swinging corner taken by Deverdics with 20 minutes left on the clock worked its way through to Jack Bodenham at the far post who rifled a header against the upright.
With five minutes left to play, Spartans almost had a goal back via a mix-up on the defensive line for Alfreton. Deverdics’ through ball evaded the run of Main, which saw Lund intercept and pass back to Willis, however, Willis had left his starting position to collect and Lund was unaware, resulting in a scurry towards the net for the Alfreton shot-stopper to clear and preserve his clean sheet.
A consolation strike did then surface in the first minute of added time as a precise lofted cross from Bodenham picked out Main who brought the ball down into his path with a superb chested touch before adjusting and slamming a powerful right-footed effort into the net from close range.
Full-time: Blyth Spartans 1-3 Alfreton Town
Blyth Spartans | Alex Mitchell, Joe Oliver (Harrison Clark, 55′), Michael Liddle, Finn Cousin-Dawson, Jack Bodenham, Elliot Forbes, Nicky Deverdics, Will McGowan, JJ O’Donnell (Jordan Hickey, 55′), Cedric Main, JJ Hooper.
Subs not used | Jon Shaw, Harry Arnison and Lewis Knight.
Goals | Cedric Main 90+1′
Alfreton Town | George Willis, Josh Clackstone, Adam Lund, Kennedy Digie, Wayne Wiley, William Fewster (James Oliver, 86′), George Cantrill, Jake Day (Ryan Taylor, 79′), Liam Waldock, Nathan Newall, Lewis Salmon.
Subs not used | William Grewal-Pollard, Jake Askew and Kwame Boateng.
Goals | Liam Waldock 8′, Lewis Salmon 41′ and Kennedy Digie 53′
Attendance | 896
Referee | Zac Kettle
Spartans return to FA Cup action next Saturday at Croft Park as they host Worksop Town in the third qualifying round.