Report by Sam Donovan
In association with:
Alan McLean FCMA CGMA
Chartered Management Consultant
Evo-Stik NPL Premier Division
Saturday January 14 2017
Blyth Spartans 2 – 0 Nantwich Town
Blyth Spartans moved top of the league as a 2-0 victory against Nantwich moved them above Buxton and Rushall Olympic who had their games called off.
A thoroughly dominant performance from the Spartans was rewarded with some pleasing football a joy to behold as they disposed of the Dabbers.
Blyth were caught cold in the 1st minute as the ball was worked out to the left and Josh Hancock was able to cut inside to fire an effort that Paul Woolston did well to tip wide of his far post for a corner. The resultant corner bounced through the six yard box with Joe Mwasile unable to get a touch to give Nantwich a flying start.
It didn’t take long for Blyth to have their first effort of the game as Woolston’s kick bounced all the way through to Sean Reid who was able to turn and run at the defence before dragging a shot wide.
On 5 minutes, Reid capitalised on a defensive error inside the Nantwich penalty area but his effort was pushed away by Daniel Gyollai at the expense of a corner. The corner was played short to Jarrett Rivers who jinked his way inside before curling an effort into the far corner but the linesman had his flag up for offside.
Rivers and Robbie Dale were causing havoc down the flanks for the two fullbacks and they created the next chance for Spartans. Dale got to the bye-line and cut the ball back for Rivers who opted to take a touch and then but saw his effort blocked. The ball came back to Dale who shot at the near post but the ball was put out for another corner. This time the delivery from Stephen Turnbull was met by Ryan Hutchinson who could only head over the bar.
As the half wore on, Blyth continued to dominate both possession and territory. Dale was having an omnipotent presence on the game as he collected the ball on the left hand side of the box before swinging a cross in for Reid who forced the keeper into yet another save.
It took until 33minutes on the clock for Nantwich to register their next effort. Hancock won the ball in midfield and released Ryan Brooke who was afforded time and space on the edge of the area. Brooke elected to shoot from 30yds but his effort deflected was deflected wide.
Just before the interval, Nathan Buddle advanced up the field and showed some footwork than many a winger would be proud of to beat two challenges before finding Rivers on the right. The cross from Rivers, found Dan Maguire who seemed destined to score but it took a last ditch challenge from the Dabbers to keep the ball out.
The half ended as it began with Nantwich having a great chance to take the lead. Matt Bell swung in a dangerous corner and found the unmarked Dabbers centre half Curtis Jones who could only head wide. The sides went into the break goalless but with Spartans well on top.
The Spartans came out for the second half looking much sharper than they did in the first and were almost immediately rewarded. On 47minutes, Sean Reid was fouled on the edge of the box by Bell and the referee gave the free kick. Dale and Turnbull stood over the ball but it was the former who took aim and found the back of the net with the aid of a slight deflection from the wall to deceive Gyollai.
The goal seemed to release Blyth as they sensed the floodgates may open. Neat play involving the Spartans’ fullbacks Atkinson and Michael Liddle ended up with Dale shooting from 25yds but it was straight at the keeper.
The game took a farcical turn on 52minutes after the referee ordered Mwasile off for wearing the wrong colour under shorts and made the player remain off the field for several minutes until the ball finally went out of play. Nantwich could have fallen further behind during this as Rivers got in down the left and cut the ball back but the ball evaded Maguire and Dale.
The second goal didn’t take long in coming and it came from an almost identical position on the pitch. Rivers was caught by Riley allowing Stephen Turnbull the opportunity to bend the ball over the wall and into the top corner. It was a splendid effort and evoked memories of his free-kick against Hartlepool.
Blyth continued to dominate as Maguire, Reid and Rivers all had good chances to extend the lead. However, Nantwich gave Spartans the opportunity of another set piece after Jones crashed chopped down Dale in the box. Turnbull had the opportunity to double his tally for the game but his effort went over the bar.
Nantwich had a chance to get back into the game when Brooke collected the ball but shot from all of 35yds and his effort trickled wide.
Blyth were able to introduce two debutants as Jordan Laidler and Adam Wrightson both came on for the final period of the game. Wrightson had a good chance to seal the points in the 86th minute as he accelerated past Andy White but his effort was smothered by the keeper.
Despite 5 minutes of added time, Blyth never looked in danger and thoroughly merited their 2-0 victory. It perhaps could and should have been more with several good chances being created. Spartans leapfrogged Buxton and Rushall to takeover at the top of the table. Next up for Blyth is an away game at Skelmersdale on Tuesday evening.
Blyth Spartans: Woolston, Atkinson (Cartwright 70), Liddle, Mullen, Hutchinson, Buddle, Rivers (Wrightson 68), Turnbull, Maguire, Reid (Laidler 79), Dale.
Subs not used: Armstrong, Pell.
Nantwich Town: Gyollai, White, Touray, Harrison, Jones, Hall, Hancock, Riley (Bailey-Nicholls 65), Brooke, Bell, Mwasile (Abadaki 70)
Subs not used: Stair, Madley, Quin.
Referee: Shane Sugden
Spartans Man of the Match: Robbie Dale