Report by Sam Donovan
In association with:
Alan McLean FCMA CGMA
Chartered Management Consultant
Vanarama National League North
Saturday January 6th 2018
Blyth Spartans 4 – 0 Gainsborough Trinity
The Spartans returned to winning ways as they thoroughly demolished a Gainsborough Trinity side who looked bereft of confidence once Greg Rutherford nodded in the opening after 32 minutes. Sean Reid doubled the lead as he smashed home following a goalmouth scramble before clipping home the third. Rutherford then completed his brace with a simple tap in.
Blyth made two changes to the side that went down at Spennymoor on New Year’s Day with Greg Rutherford coming into the side for Adam Wrightson and Jarrett Rivers returning from his bout of flu to replace Kieran Green, who has been recalled by Gateshead.
The game got underway in bright Blyth sunshine, albeit in bitterly cold conditions on the Northumbrian coast. The returning Rivers was sought out regularly with the Spartans’ players spraying cross-field balls to go up against the Michael Jacklin.
The first shot came after 8 minutes as a cross in by Rivers was cleared by Nathan Stainfield but only as far as Damen Mullen but his effort was easily blocked by a Gainsborough body.
Blyth seemed eager to get the ball wide and try to exploit the full backs and on the next occasion, Robbie Dale was found by Dale Hopson and cut inside of Ellis Storey but his effort was high and wide of Henrich Ravas’ goal.
Gainsborough on the defensive for the majority of the opening stages were content to allow Blyth to have possession. Hopson swung in a dangerous ball and whilst there wasn’t a Spartan player to try and turn the ball home, Ioan Evans sliced the ball back to his ‘keeper.
Trinity did break forward when Curtis Bateson was released down the right and was able to cut into the box and his left-footed effort was blocked by a strong foot from Peter Jameson. The rebound fell invitingly for Craig King but his effort was deflected into the arms of Jameson.
Jordan Richards was lucky to not go into the book following a quick succession of cynical fouls around the penalty area but the referee was lenient enough to allow the midfield man the benefit of the doubt. The free kicks were wasted by Blyth and weren’t able to test Ravas.
As the game ticked into the second quarter of the half, Blyth tried to up the ante with Rivers cutting in and seeing an effort blocked before Michael Liddle drilled an effort 5yrds wide when he was allowed to advance forward.
Dale was being found in space time and time again down the left and after getting past the Jacklin, chipped in towards the back post but a gust of wind carried it out of play with Rutherford waiting.
Blyth deservedly took the lead on 32 minutes, Dale was once again found on the left and played it diagonally across for Rivers, aided by a missed interception by Storey and the winger clipped a cross into the box for Rutherford to guide a header back into the far corner.
Gainsborough who had offered very little offensively were almost caught from their own corner. Robbie Dale cleared the ball and Rutherford did superbly to cushion the ball to Rivers who released Sean Reid and the midfield struck and great effort that was tipped wide of the post by a diving Ravas. From the corner there was a spell of ping pong in the box with Hopson and Rivers seeing efforts blocked by Trinity players.
As Spartans pushed to get a second just before half time, Reid was adjudged to be offside as he nodded the ball back across the box following a delightful dink into the box by Hopson.
Ravas kept Trinity in the game just before the interval as Rivers got down the flank and his square ball across the box was smothered by Ravas. Rutherford was waiting for the simple tap in if the ‘keeper had left the ball.
The visitors made a double change with Shane Clarke and Adam Smith coming on for Mason Warren and King who had been largely anonymous during the first half.
Spartans started the second half as the first ended with them pushing for a second goal. Rivers was able to twist and turn into the box and whilst his effort was on target, all the sting was taken out of it as it deflected by Reid and Ravas was able to dive onto it.
The referee continued to let a series of fouls go unpunished all over the pitch as the game threatened to boil over. Smith and Evans were both culpable of cynically breaking up breaks as Blyth looked to counter.
Blyth doubled their lead on the hour as a corner was driven into the box and whilst the initial effort was blocked from Ryan Hutchinson, but Sean Reid was on hand to smash home the rebound.
Robbie Dale and then Greg Rutherford both looked to cash in on an increasingly porous Trinity defence but on both occasions their efforts were off target.
Blyth added a third after 62 minutes through Sean Reid. Rutherford chased a ball forward and was able to roll it across the box for Hopson who sat down Stainfield and Ravas before laying it off to Reid who put it through the legs off Evans on the line.
The patience of Mr. Wootton finally wore through on 67 minutes as Storey picked up the games’ first yellow with a late foul on Rivers. From the free kick, Reid thought he had got his hat-trick as he was played through and chipped Ravas but it was brought back for the linesman who had flagged him offside.
Trinity won a free kick 25yrds out after McTiernan was adjudged to have fouled Smith. Bateson stepped up looking to curl an effort into the net but it was curled well over the bar.
Rivers who had been influential throughout was given the opportunity to add to the scoreline as he was released but his effort was dinked over the top of Ravas but also the top of the crossbar.
Gainsborough almost grabbed a consolation as the ball found its way to Clarke on the edge of the box but his effort deflected through bodies and into the arms of Jameson.
Rutherford added the fourth on 83 minutes when Rivers accelerated down the right was able to cut the ball back to the onrushing Cartwright who saw his effort saved but Rutherford was on hand to tap home from the goal line to make it 4 – 0.
As the game approached the conclusion, Sean Reid twice had the opportunity to take the match ball as first he drove wide from distance before flicking a near post header wide of the target. Adam Wrightson also had a chance to add gloss to score as he curled high and wide from inside the box.
There was to be no further chances in the game as Blyth thoroughly deserved their victory over a side who saw their confidence evaporate as soon as the first goal went in. On another day, Spartans could have had doubled and it was credit to Ravas to keep the score down.
Next up for the Spartans is the Buildbase FA Trophy tie against National League side Bromley on Saturday at Croft Park.
Blyth Spartans: Jameson, Atkinson (Cartwright, 70), Liddle, Mullen (McTiernan, 59), Buddle, Hutchinson, Rivers, Reid, Rutherford, Hopson, Dale (c) (Wrightson, 79).
Subs not used: Watson, MacDonald
Gainsborough Trinity: Ravas, Jacklin (c), Storey, Evans, Stainfield, Russell (Simmons, 60), Bateson, Richards, Worsfold, Warren (Clarke, 46), King (Smith, 46).
Subs not used: Jarman, Beevers.
Spartans Man of the Match: Jarrett Rivers