By Glen Maxwell
In association with:
ALAN McLEAN FCMA CGMA
Chartered Management Accountant
Emirates FA Cup First Qualifying Round
Saturday September 3 2016
Blyth Spartans 3-1 Frickley Athletic
A brace from Sean Reid helped Spartans progress into the second qualifying round of this season’s Emirates FA Cup – as Blyth saw off fellow Evo-Stik Premier League side Frickley Athletic 3-1 at Croft Park.
The Port of Blyth Player of the Month award winner for August scored two identical second half finishes, before Nathan Curtis pulled one back with an outrageous strike.
With Frickley pushing to force a replay, it was left to super striker Daniel Maguire to secure safe passage by slotting the ball home in the last minute.
Spartans looked up for a cup run once more and flew out of the traps early on. A ball over deep looked destined to play in Maguire, but former Poland international Sebastian Malkowski rushed out to boot the ball away to safety ahead of the striker.
Blyth then had a golden chance to opening the scoring from Stephen Turnbull’s corner in the seventh minute. The stylish midfielder drilled a cross over to Matthew Wade, but his powered header was straight into the hands of the waiting Malkowski.
Frickley hadn’t had much of the ball in the opening spell, but could have scored with their first real chance three minutes later.
A fortuitous knock forward from defence bounced just over Ryan Hutchinson’s head in the Spartans box and gifted Carl Hinsley the chance of a shot at goal from a tight angle. Hutchinson was able to recover well though and got a block on the shot, to take the sting out of it for a grateful Adam McHugh to gather.
It was a case of imitation for Sean Reid soon after – as he produced a similar attempt to Hinsley’s effort. The attacking midfielder’s shot from the right produced a save from Malkowski, but he maybe should have cut the ball back to Maguire for a simple tap-in.
With 25 minutes gone, Spartans stepped up a gear and had two really good chances to go ahead.
First, Pattison was picked out perfectly by a weighted pass from Maguire. The former South Africa international tried to blast the ball across Malkowski, but the Frickley stopper produced a fine reaction save to keep his clean sheet intact.
A minute later, some trademark majestic play down the left from Robert Dale saw him wait for the defender to slide in before chipping a cross up to the far post. A waiting Wade leapt up ahead of teammate Pattison, but he could only watch as Malkowski comfortably gathered his second headed effort of the afternoon.
Frickley were getting frustrated and this was shown most clearly when Sam Akeroyd received the game’s first yellow card for kicking the ball away, following the award of a Blyth free-kick.
Athletic tested the home just after the half-hour mark when C Hinsley pulled the trigger inside the box. However, McHugh – making his first appearance of the season because of Peter Jeffries’ suspension – was able to save well and palm it away to safety.
As half-time approaches, Spartans went into full flow and had a number of chances to carve open the Evo-Stik Premier League’s bottom side.
Maguire twice set up Pattison, but the defender intercepted the first attempt when he tried to cut back onto his left foot. He was able to get a shot away from “Nipa’s” knock back two minutes later, but the ex-Newcastle United midfielder was unable to keep his fierce strike on target.
There was even time for penalty shouts from the majority of the 667-strong Croft Park faithful, following some questionable control from Gavin Caines’ header in the Frickley area. While referee Lindsey Robinson was ruling out a spot-kick for Spartans, Maguire opted to play on with a reaction strike but Malkowski was able to knock the ball behind for a corner.
Malkowski was called upon again two minutes prior to the end of the half and, if his reaction saves were impressive, his next stop was even better still.
A great flowing move from the hosts culminated in Wade teeing up a shot from the edge of the box. The ball was rising and appeared to be destined for the top right corner, but Malkowski leapt across his goal to pull off a fantastic fingertip save to deny Tom Wade’s son for the third time in the first half.
The hosts started the second half with the same intensity that they ended the first and had two good shouts for a penalty turned down within five minutes of the restart.
Wade picked up a low cross yards from goal and saw his first shot blocked, before the defender threw himself at the rebound and appeared to handle the ball with a raised arm. Two minutes later, Maguire was felled in the Frickley area but Robinson opted to signal for a corner instead.
Spartans didn’t let that frustration get to them though and their persistence paid off when they finally broke the deadlock in the 54th minute.
Turnbull played a lovely cross over to the near post from the left. The ball was met by Reid, who beat his man at the front post to stab a shot instinctively past Malkowski.
The old adage of London buses is often overused in football, but it was apt to describe Blyth’s rewards for their first half toil, when Reid scored an almost identical finish four minutes later.
Another glorious ball from Turnbull played in Dale down the right. The talismanic winger picked out Reid with a first-time cross and the 24-year-old finished in exactly the same way as he had for his first.
Reid then had a fantastic chance to grab a hat-trick when Turnbull once again floated in a good cross, this time from a free-kick. He had the goal at his mercy with a free header six yards out, but had his head in his head soon after – as the ball sailed agonisingly just over the crossbar.
Unfortunately for Reid, that would be the last chance for him to better his brace – as he made way for Michael Richardson in the 70th minute. He could take some consolation from the fact he left the pitch to a standing ovation, however.
Frickley were made to wait for their first real attempt following the break but, when it came, it certainly tested the Spartans stopper. Nathan Valentine struck from long-range, but McHugh was able to dive at full stretch to tip the fierce effort over the bar.
A late fightback never really looked like happening for the visitors, but that didn’t stop them looking for a fight in other ways. Macaulay Parkinson brought down Turnbull, which led to the pair both being booked following an altercation following the foul.
Valentine then picked up a booking soon after, to keep Robinson busy in the second half – as she showed Athletic their fifth yellow card of the afternoon.
Just as it looked as the league’s basement club were going to roll over and accept FA Cup elimination, Frickley’s Nathan Curtis pulled out a tremendous finish to halve the deficit.
Opting to hit one from long-range on the right side, Curtis’s flashing wonder-strike fizzed across McHugh and found its target – as it flew into the top-left corner. To show just how special the strike was, it was met by warm applause by the Blyth supporters.
Jarrett Rivers wrote his name into FA Cup folklore with the late winner in Spartans’ 2-1 win at Hartlepool two seasons ago and the substitute nearly struck another killer blow after coming on for Wade. Good link-up play with Maguire saw the former Blackpool winger strike from the edge of the box, but his looping effort couldn’t find the back of the net.
Blyth were not to be denied though and, in the last minute of normal time, Maguire sealed Spartans’ spot in the Emirates FA Cup second qualifying round with a routine finish.
A great sweeping move saw Richardson play in Maguire one-on-one. With Malkowski advancing out of his goal, Maguire kept his composure to slot the ball past the helpless goalkeeper.
Tom Wade’s men will be delighted to get past Frickley without the need of a replay – as it now gives them a full week to get ready for the visit of third-bottom Sutton Coldfield next Saturday in the Evo-Stik Premier League.
Blyth Spartans: McHugh, Cartwright, Bell, Caines, Hutchinson, Turnbull, Pattison (Buddle 86), Wade (Rivers 75), Maguire, Reid (Richardson 70), Dale.
Subs not used: Pell, Parker, Armstrong, Liddle.
Frickley Athletic: Malkowski, Parkinson, Grant, L Hinsley, Gooda, Waters, Valentine, Hanna, Curtis, C Hinsley (Williams 50), Akeroyd (Burton 81).
Subs not used: Guest, Parmer, Diggles, Slingsby.
Spartans Man of the Match: Sean Reid