By Glen Maxwell
In association with:
ALAN McLEAN FCMA CGMA
Chartered Management Accountant
Evo-Stik Premier League
Saturday February 25 2017
Blyth Spartans 4-2 Corby Town
Spartans won the battle of the Evo-Stik Premier League’s form sides – as Blyth beat Corby Town 4-2 to continue their winning start to 2017.
Daniel Maguire opened the scoring with a cool finish on 14 minutes, before Stefan Moore levelled the scores just before the break with a spectacular speculative effort.
Spartans rode the storm at the start of the second half, before Sean Reid slotted home to restore Blyth’s lead on 70 minutes. Maguire’s 20th goal of the season and a late strike from Luke Armstrong put gloss on the result, but Blyth more than deserved their 11th straight league victory.
After being forced into extra time during Wednesday’s Techflow Group Northumberland Senior Cup semi-final against Blyth Town, Spartans made two changes for the visit of the Steelmen – as Jordan Watson and Jordan Laidler returned in place of Andrew Cartwright and Damen Mullen.
Corby had won four and drawn one of their last five games, so it was a meeting of the top two form sides in the division. The visitors looked to defy their lowly position in the league within the first two minutes, but Paul Woolston leapt up high to punch David Bell’s wind-assisted corner off the line.
Jarrett Rivers picked out a terrible clearance from Aidan Grant on the edge of the area on 12 minutes, before playing in Maguire. The striker’s shot was well blocked though.
Another fantastic interception two minutes later put Maguire in again and, this time, ‘Nipa’ made no mistake.
Reid raced to get a boot on the ball to release Maguire, who ran into the area and rounded Grant with ease. Taking every second of the time afforded to him, ‘Nipa’ picked his spot perfectly to place the ball past three desperate bodies on the line.
Things could have got even better for Spartans nine minutes later, when Maguire drilled a cross in towards Luke Armstrong at the near post. Armstrong appeared to beat Aaron Brown to divert the ball onto the post, but the assistant’s flag was already raised for offside.
David Atkinson got caught trying to see the ball out on 25 minutes, when Philip Trainer dispossessed him on the byline. The striker hit one from a narrow angle, but Woolston was able to palm the ball away at his near post.
Reid leapt up well to meet Laidler’s free kick with his head just before the half-hour mark and looked certain to double Spartans’ lead. However, Grant produced a fantastic one-handed low stop from point-blank range to keep his side in the contest.
And Corby more than took advantage of that lifeline, with a speculative equaliser two minutes before half time.
Moore spotted Woolston off his line and hit one on the turn from 35 yards out. The Spartans stopper scrambled back to try and keep the shot out, but watched helplessly as the ball found the top corner of his net.
There was still time for Blyth to have another chance before the whistle and the home side really should have gone in ahead. However, Armstrong could only fire wide when he looked certain to profit from a goalmouth scramble in the Corby area.
The Steelmen had taken heart from their equaliser just before the break and seemed reinvigorated when they came back out. Moore cut the ball back from the byline on 54 minutes, but Ben Milnes’ shot at the edge of the area was blocked well by Watson.
It took nearly 15 minutes for Blyth to register their first chance of the second half – after Ryan Hutchinson strode forward and rode the challenge of two Corby players. The defender picked out Maguire with a ball into feet, but Grant held his shot well.
Blyth then camped in the Corby half for long spells in the second half, but had no luck down the right – despite prolonged pressure down the right side. Spartans finally mixed it up with an attack down the left on 70 minutes and it paid instant dividends.
Watson took four out of the game with a lovely flick up over to Dale, who sailed a great cross into the area. Grant flapped it down into the path of Reid, who drilled home to retake the lead for the hosts.
Another majestic bit of play by the enigmatic Spartans captain made it 3-1 with 11 minutes to go.
Dale put Milnes on the ground, before ghosting past three and putting another fantastic cross in. This time, Maguire rose up to powerfully head his 20th league goal of the season into the roof of the net.
The home side then put Town to the sword again on 86 minutes, when Rivers did brilliantly to turn Jamie Anton on the byline and play a ball in towards the near post. Armstrong slid in well to help the ball on its way across Grant and across the line at the far post.
Rivers then had a glorious chance to get on the score-sheet himself, but couldn’t keep his effort on target after doing the hard part.
With the game in the second of three added minutes, substitute Giuseppe Iaciofano stabbed home a consolation to the dismay of the home support – and especially stadium announcer Ken Teasdale!
Blyth have now made it an incredible 12 wins in a row in all competitions and will look to continue their 100 percent winning run in 2017 when they make the trip to fellow promotion hopefuls Spennymoor Town on Tuesday night.
Blyth Spartans: Woolston, Atkinson, Watson, Laidler (Pattison 90), Hutchinson, Buddle, Rivers, Reid (McTiernan 78), Maguire (Mullen 83), Armstrong, Dale.
Subs not used: Pell, Wrightson.
Corby Town: Grant, Anton, Wildin, Kennedy (Iaciofano 78), Brown, Lee, Bell, Milnes, Moore, Trainer, Crawford (Leslie 78).
Subs not used: Bell, Johnson, Kinniburgh.
Referee: Mr Herzeg
Spartans Man of the Match: Daniel Maguire