Never back the early kick-off? Graham Fenton’s side backed up their hard-fought draw on the road last weekend with a crucial victory over Bishop’s Stortford on Saturday afternoon courtesy of goals from Nicky Deverdics, Jon Shaw and Cedric Main.
A reciprocal agreement was made between both sides to allow the kick-off time to be brought forward to 1pm with the visitors aiming to return home at a reasonable hour following their Friday overnight stay.
The York City loanee, Main, returned to the starting line-up, having been out of action since suffering a knee injury in the 1-1 draw at home to Worksop Town at the back end of September, and partnered assistant manager Jon Shaw up top.
Kicking off the opening 10 minutes of the National League North clash, both sides aimed to take a grasp on possession and establish a rhythm to their play, however, no clear-cut chances were created.
Just after 12 minutes, the first opportunity opened up to the visitors, though, as Aaron Greene had a sight on goal under pressure from Harrison Clark as he entered the penalty area from the left flank. The Blues’ forward managed to poke a low strike on goal, however, Alex Mitchell narrowed down the angle with great anticipation to make a strong save.
Five minutes later, it was Spartans’ turn to carve out their clear opening on the visitors’ net as JJ O’Donnell played in Nicky Deverdics to the byline who persisted excellently to work the ball to Cedric Main whose effort was turned behind for a corner by Jack Giddens.
It did not take much longer for the breakthrough to follow; Will McGowan went down under a challenge around 35-yards out from goal allowing Jordan Hickey and Deverdics to line up the dead-ball situation.
A thumping, driving left-footed free-kick from the Spartans captain broke the deadlock just before 20 minutes had been played. The long-range effort flew past the outstretched Giddens following a faint runover by Jordan Hickey.
Deverdics collected a loose ball following Jack Bodenham’s defensive interception which bobbled into the attacking half for Spartans before playing a sumptuous chipped pass over the defensive line for the advancing Jon Shaw who attempted to lob Giddens but fortunately for the Stortford shot-stopper, he was able to back peddle and claw away to safety.
Just before the half-hour mark, Main was picked out by McGowan to advance beyond the defensive live and into the penalty area one-on-one with Giddens before squaring the ball for Shaw to turn into an unguarded net to double the lead.
Spartans comfortably saw out the final 15 minutes of the first period plus the additional four minutes for stoppages to head into the interval two goals to the good.
Half-time: Blyth Spartans 2-0 Bishop’s Stortford
Following an under-par piece of distribution from Mitchell just two minutes into the second half, he made amends with a sharp low stop to keep Zain Walker’s effort at bay from close range.
Just moments later, a well-worked passage of play from the right flank saw McGowan tee up Deverdics to hit a first-time effort from 25-yards from a central position on goal, the effort deflected into the path of Shaw who then smashed a left-footed attempt against the crossbar.
On 51 minutes, Shaw had another golden opportunity as he peeled off the back of Harry Beadle to meet O’Donnell’s inviting cross to which he glanced wide from eight yards.
The opening exchanges to the second period presented highly eventful in comparison to the first half; three minutes following Shaw’s second attempt on goal after the interval, Anyne Godfrinne was brandished a straight red card for an off-the-ball incident with Finn Cousin-Dawson following referee David Jones’ chat with his assistant on the far side.
Before the hour-mark arrived, a seamless team move resulted in Main firing a third of the afternoon into the bottom corner past Giddens from the edge of the penalty area following Hickey’s eventual lay-off.
The visitors tried to stage somewhat of a response to the three-goal deficit when Gio McGregor probed forward and drew a foul 20-yards out from goal on 66 minutes. McGregor stepped up and took the free-kick on himself, curling an effort over the Spartans wall but Mitchell read it well and strongly palmed the effort out of play for a corner.
Substitute Harry Arnsion lofted in a cross from the right-hand side of the attacking third on 81 minutes which was cleared as only as far as Shaw who lashed a powerful strike over the crossbar.
Harrison Clark had back-to-back chances to register his first competitive goal for the Club as full-time neared. McGowan weaved through two defenders close to the byline before setting up Clark just inside the area, however, his curling left-footed strike drifted just wide of the upright before he connected a glancing header with Rhys Evans’ in-swinging cross which trickled off target from close range.
The action was not over just there though as one minute into the added four of stoppage time, Giddens punted a long ball down-field for which Cousin-Dawson and Stortford substitute Tobias Braney contested aerially – the latter aggressively left a frailing arm in the face of the Spartans defender which resulted in a straight red card seeing the visitors end the game with nine men on the field.
Full-time: Blyth Spartans 3-0 Bishop’s Stortford
Blyth Spartans | Alex Mitchell, Rhys Evans, Harrison Clark, Finn Cosuin-Dawson, Jack Bodenham, JJ O’Donnell, Jordan Hickey (Harry Arnison, 76′), Nicky Deverdics (Elliot Forbes, 68′), Will McGowan, Cedric Main (Charlie Aitken, 60′), Jon Shaw.
Subs not used | Michael Hogan and Joe Oliver.
Goals | Nicky Deverdics 19′, Jon Shaw 29′ and Cedric Main 58′
Bishop’s Stortford | Jack Giddens, Harrison Sodjie, Harry Beadle, Gio McGregor, Andre Godfrinne, Kyran Clements (Billy Cracknell, 72′), Rob Howard, Zain Walker, Aaron Greene, Ollie Peters (Jack Thomas, 72′), Fraser Alexander (Tobias Braney, 62′).
Subs not used | Adam Messaoudin
Red cards | Andre Godfrinne 55′ and Tobias Braney 90+1′
Attendance | 710
Referee | David Jones
|Blyth Spartans||Stats||Bishop’s Stortford|
|5||Shots on target||3|
Spartans have moved up to seventh in the National League North standings albeit with surrounding clubs possessing a game in hand. Next up for Graham Fenton’s side is a tough home task against table-topping Tamworth on Saturday afternoon at Croft Park.