By Glen Maxwell
In association with:
ALAN McLEAN FCMA CGMA
Chartered Management Accountant
Vanarama National League North
Saturday August 12 2017
Blyth Spartans 4-2 Tamworth
It was third time lucky for Blyth Spartans on Saturday – as they celebrated their first win of the season with a 4-2 win over Tamworth at Croft Park.
The visitors broke the deadlock through a fantastic goal from Reece Styche on 14 minutes, before Ryan Hutchinson scored Spartans’ first goal of the season four minutes later. Strikes from Daniel Maguire and Jarrett Rivers either side of half-time put the home side ahead, but Styche’s spot-kick halved Tamworth’s deficit on the hour.
Blyth were awarded a penalty of their own on 66 minutes, which allowed Dale Hopson to score his first goal for the club and wrap up Blyth’s first three points of the new Vanarama National League season.
Alun Armstrong made one change from the side that lost 2-0 to FA Trophy holders York City on Tuesday night, with David McTiernan taking the place of Macauley Langstaff. That change saw McTiernan go into the holding role in midfield, behind Lewis Horner – allowing Hopson to push further up and support striker Maguire up top.
With chances at a premium in the first five minutes, Tamworth won an early free kick – after Nathan Buddle bundled former Gateshead striker Styche to the ground. Nothing came from the set-piece though – as Jordan Watson headed the danger away.
Blyth were in the ascendancy and, two minutes later, had their first chance of the game – as Dale broke through, with Maguire in support. Opting to go himself, the Blyth captain unleashed a fierce strike that Tamworth goalkeeper Shaun Rowley could only let bounce off his body.
Dale found himself in a similar situation moments later, but his curled effort was deflected behind for corner.
Hopson was next to hit one from way out on 12 minutes, but his shot was blocked away as well.
Tamworth then produced a moment of magic out of nothing two minutes later, to open the scoring through Styche.
The Gibraltar international took a beautifully flicked touch to flick the ball past Buddle and leave his man for dead. That saw Styche through one-on-one with Peter Jameson and he finished calmly past the keeper to put the visitors ahead.
Having lost both of their opening two games of the season by two goals to nil, it was imperative that Spartans responded well to going behind for their third successive game and that’s exactly what they did – as they equalised within four minutes of Styche’s opener.
A sweeping Blyth attack saw Maguire and Hutchinson link up well and proceed into the visitors’ 18-yard box. The striker rolled the ball across goal and into the path of ‘Hutchy’, who side-footed Spartans first goal of the season.
Maguire was terrorising the Tamworth backline again on 27 minutes, but his low shot from the corner of the box was stopped easily by Rowley.
The same couldn’t be said a minute later though, when last season’s top scorer notched his first of the new campaign with a majestic goal of his own.
Further fantastic build-up play from Blyth allowed Hopson to feed the ball through to Maguire on the edge of the area, before the striker produced a beautiful bit of trickery to deceive the defender. Despite still having a bit to do, ‘Nipa’ managed to rifle the ball into the top corner of Rowley’s net with a great finish.
Tamworth tried to respond almost instantly themselves just before the half-hour mark, but Styche could only blast his shot into the side netting under pressure.
Rivers then whipped a good cross in towards McTiernan, who nodded it towards goal. Unluckily for the former Whitby Town man, it was deflected wide by a defending body.
The former Blackpool winger looked to turn provider once more soon after, when he picked out Horner with a low pass across the goal. The former Inverness Caledonian Thistle midfielder mis-timed his first-time shot in space though and the chance went begging.
Tamworth’s Connor Taylor picked the ball up and shot from the edge of the area on 35 minutes, but his shot cleared the Blyth bar.
Rivers crossed in again with six minutes of the first half remaining, but the ball evaded everybody in the box and dropped nicely for Hopson racing in at the back post. He tried to find a way past Rowley from a tight angle, but the stopper stood firm to deny him.
Styche was adjudged to have beaten the offside trap on 44 minutes and raced towards goal one-on-one again. However, this time, Jameson forced him wide and got an important hand on the ball to thwart the forward’s chances of snatching a second.
Tamworth again thought they had restored parity in the second minute of first half stoppage time, when Ellis Deeney picked out Jack Lane at the near post. The central defender flashed a header towards goal, but Jameson saved well again at point-blank range and the half-time whistle sounded seconds later.
The away side appeared to be desperate to find an equaliser early in the second half and put together a couple of nice attacking moves, without any end product.
Andy Burns then crossed in on 49 minutes and saw the ball blocked back to him by Michael Liddle. The right-back decided to shoot from the corner of the area, but it was well over Jameson’s goal.
A minute later, Dale cut inside from the left wing and tried to pick out the top corner of the far post across Rowley. However, the talismanic winger was unsuccessful – as his attempt missed its mark.
Tamworth began to push further and further forward looking to get back into the game, which left gaps at the back that Blyth duly exploited on 56 minutes.
McTiernan broke and played it through to Maguire, whose cross was poorly cleared by the visiting defence. The ball dropped as far as Rivers 16 yards out and the winger was able to find the back of the net through a crowd of bodies to extend Spartans’ lead.
That two-goal cushion would last all of three minutes though – as Buddle fouled Styche in the area to concede a penalty just prior to the hour mark. The forward stepped up himself to dispatch a cool penalty into the top right corner – giving Jameson no chance – for his second goal of the afternoon.
Styche was proving to be the only real threat for the visitors and he was picked out once again from a long ball forward after 65 minutes. With no-one in support, he was forced into a speculative chip from long-range that Jameson dealt with comfortably.
The Gibraltar international’s best efforts to help the visitors a share of the spoils weren’t supported by his teammates though – as Luke Jones gifted Spartans a chance to restore their two-goal lead, when he felled Maguire in the area on 66 minutes. Hopson stepped up to drill his penalty down the middle of the goal, with Rowley diving away to his left.
Styche could have had his hat-trick seconds after the restart when the ball fell well for him in the box, but he could only shoot wide once again.
Tamworth’s number nine continued to pose problems for the Blyth defenders when he broke through again with 17 minutes to go, chipping the ball over Jameson and riding a challenge from the Spartans stopper. The away dugout shouted for a penalty, but referee D McNamara waved play on and Brad Reid headed wide with an open goal going begging.
With eight minutes remaining, Rivers picked up a quick throw from Maguire and rode the mis-timed tackle of Jones to get into the area. The winger fired past Rowley at the near post, but the ball fizzed across goal and wide of the far post.
Horner crossed in two minutes later, but substitute Adam Wrightson’s attempted shot looped up into the air. Maguire met it in the air at the back post with an outrageous overhead kick, but he couldn’t find the back of the net with his effort.
Macaulay Langstaff – who had come on Hopson – forced a fantastic low one-handed save from Rowley as the game entered added time. Rivers looked to get a goal from the follow-up, but the keeper recovered well to put him off – as his shot found only the side netting.
With their first success of the season now on the board, Spartans will look to try and make it back-to-back wins when they make the trip to Gainsborough Trinity on Tuesday night (7:45pm kick off.)
Blyth Spartans: Jameson, Hutchinson, Liddle, McTiernan, Buddle, J Watson, Rivers, Horner, Maguire, Hopson, Dale.
Subs not used: Langstaff, Mullen, Wrightson, S Reid, MacDonald.
Tamworth: Rowley, Burns, Morley, Deeney, Jones, Lane, Upton, Verma, Styche, Taylor, Knights.
Subs not used: Davies, Ezewele, Curley, B Reid, Fox.
Referee: D McNamara
Spartans Man of the Match: Daniel Maguire