Spartans suffered a 2-1 defeat away to Chester on Saturday afternoon in an encounter drenched by a sweltering temperature on the Welsh border.
Charlie Caton opened the scoring 10 minutes after half-time before the returning JJ Hooper equalised with five minutes of regulated play left on the clock after being introduced from the bench. However, another late blow proved pivotal on the road for Graham Fenton’s side as Elliott Whitehouse converted a penalty at the death to secure three points for The Seals.
Ninety Spartans made the journey to the Deva Stadium and they were making their voices heard to say the very least as the majority of the action occurred over in the far corner of the West Stand in which they were situated during the opening 15 minutes of the National League.
The first opportunity on goal was presented to the hosts on 17 minutes; Charlie Caton glanced a header wide of the mark having latched onto Iwan Murray’s in-swinging corner.
Finn Cousin-Dawson was on hand to make a vital headed clearance deep in the 18-yard box to clear Decan Weeks’ dangerous cross before Caton could make contact with the ball to direct it on target.
JJ O’Donnell struck an effort on goal but saw it blocked away to safety from the hosts after latching onto Will McGowan’s drilled, low corner just after the half-hour mark.
Moments later, McGowan had an excellent chance of his own having controlled a precise pass from Jack Bodenham; he dipped his shoulder to cut inside on the edge of the box, but unfortunately, stroked a curling effort over the crossbar.
Spartans began to grow into the game with confidence following the prior two attempts on goal; Cedric Main raced onto O’Donnell’s through ball into the penalty area but the York City loanee was bundled to the turf off balance before he could open up his stance to test Wyll Stanway in the Chester goal.
On 37 minutes, a strong spell of possession resulted in Michael Liddle onrushing onto a neat pass to strike on goal, however, a resolute block from the hosts helped to divert the ball off target.
Caton flashed an attempt wide from the edge of the box as he slightly rushed the crucial moment of play following a sweeping move from The Seals on 44 minutes, before Cousin-Dawson yet again had to be on point with another defensive input to slide in and challenge Murray as the first half concluded with three added minutes.
Half-time: Chester 0-0 Blyth Spartans
The first attempt of the second period was spearheaded by Elliot Forbes for Spartans as he then stroked the eventual strike wide on 49 minutes as Graham Fenton’s side aimed to set the tone.
However, on 55 minutes, Chester carved out an opening via Weeks whose intricate through ball found the advancing Caton to slot past Mitchell to make it one-nil.
Cousin-Dawson made another timely sliding challenge to prevent Murray from cutting the ball back from a dangerous position 66 minutes into the clash, however, the ball rebounded to Weeks who forced Mitchell into a sharp low stop from close range.
With no clear-cut chances prevailing up until the 85th minute, substitute JJ Hooper popped up in his instinctive striking range to place home a strike to level the scoreline having been teed up by an exquisite back heel from McGowan after the Spartans maestro latched onto Bodenham’s forward pass.
Two minutes later, Forbes could have sealed three points for Blyth as he unleashed a volley which rose inches over Stanway’s crossbar having been unmarked when McGowan whipped in an enticing corner.
It was the hosts who would have the final say, though, as Elliott Whitehorse went to ground under a challenge. He then stepped up to send Mitchell the wrong way to clinch three points for his side right at the death.
Full-time: Chester 2-1 Blyth Spartans
Chester | Wyll Stanway, Declan Weeks, Matty Williams, Charlie Caton (Frankie Maguire, 82′), Elliott Whitehouse, Connor Evans (Adam Thomas, 51′), Tom Sparrow, Iwan Murray, Kieran Coates (Joel Taylor, 87′), Kevin Roberts, Liam Edwards.
Subs not used | Harrison Burke and Reece Daly.
Goals | Charlie Caton 55′ and Elliott Whitehouse 89′
Blyth Spartans | Alex Mitchell, Rhys Evans (Joe Oliver, 68′), Michael Liddle, Harrison Clark, Finn Cousin-Dawson, Jack Bodenham, Jordan Hickey, JJ O’Donnell (JJ Hooper, 68′), Elliot Forbes, Will McGowan, Cedric Main.
Subs not used | Charlie Aitken, Jon Shaw and Harry Arnison.
Goals | JJ Hooper 85′
Attendance | 2010
Referee | Lee Hible
Spartans’ next fixture is back on home turf as Bradford (Park Avenue) are the visitors to Croft Park in the Emirates FA Cup second qualifying round on Saturday 16th, September.