Report by Sam Donovan
In association with:
Alan McLean FCMA CGMA
Chartered Management Consultant
Vanarama National League North
Saturday 3rd February 2018
Darlington FC 3 – 0 Blyth Spartans
Blyth succumbed to another defeat as Darlington deservedly claimed all three points against a Spartans side who are badly out of form. Stephen Thompson fired home from the penalty spot on the stroke of half time, after Ryan Hutchinson had brought down Reece Styche. Styche then doubled the lead just before the hour mark sliding home before David Syers powered home a header.
The home side started in the ascendency and won a corner after only 15 seconds as they came down the left side. However, as the ball was curled into the box, the referee blew for a foul against Reece Styche.
The first shot of the afternoon fell to the feet of Sean Reid. The midfielder was found 25yrds from goal and he flashed an effort wide of the near post with Aynsley Pears sliding across goal to see it safe.
Dale Hopson then went close to opening the scoring on 10 minutes when Dale Hopson was found by Dan Maguire. The diminutive forward went on a mesmerising run that beat three defenders before releasing Hopson but the former Whitby man could only curl the ball inches wide with Pears beaten.
On 13 minutes, Maguire was released by Hopson and the striker raced clear into the box and as he looked to pull the trigger there was a fantastic sliding challenge by Terry Galbraith to block the effort.
Darlington responded to the pressure from Blyth and should have taken the lead. Wheatley whipped in a dangerous free kick and it was met by Galbraith but the big central defender could only glance his header over the bar when well positioned.
Wheatley then had another opportunity to break the deadlock as he curled a free kick from 20yrds into the wall on 23 minutes. The ball deflected for a corner; it was from this corner that Jameson was called into action needing to punch the ball away as it was driven into the near post area.
The hosts that they had taken the lead on 25 minutes when David Syers arrived and headed home. However, the celebrations were cut short when the linesman had his flag raised for offside.
Blyth created the next meaningful effort on goal when Hopson worked his way across the box and curled an effort but it was straight into the arms of Pears.
Robbie Dale, started to have a more meaningful impact on the game as the half wore on. The ball came to him on the left side of the box and cut onto his right foot, his effort didn’t have enough bend on it and it sailed wide of the far post.
The best chance of the half fell to Michael Liddle, the full back arrived after receiving a dummied pass by Dale. Liddle took a touch and rifled one left footed that Pears did well to divert behind for a corner.
Darlington took the lead on the stroke of halftime as Ryan Hutchinson is adjudged to have brought down Reece Styche as chased a long ball. The Blyth centre half was shown a yellow for a genuine attempt at playing the ball despite the calls from Darlington fans who wanted red. Steven Thompson stepped up and sent Peter Jameson the wrong way from the penalty spot.
The game didn’t get a chance to restart as the referee blew for half time and Blyth could consider themselves to be behind at the interval after creating the better chances despite the home side dominating possession.
Only two minutes into the second half and the hosts should have doubled their lead. James Caton did well down the left and stood up a cross to the back post and Reece Styche arrived unmarked but powered his header over the bar when he should have scored.
On 54 minutes, Dale Hopson saw a volley well saved by Pears after a corner was only cleared as far as the edge of penalty area. Darlington immediately countered and Stephen Thompson sent a rasping effort over the bar.
Styche make amends of his poor finish on 56 minutes when he was able to make a run into the box and was able to meet Caton’s cutback to smash the ball home from 8yrds.
Blyth almost hit back as Robbie Dale weaved his way into the box and was unlucky to see his effort come back off the post and go behind for a goal kick.
Darlington threatened to extend their lead when Josef Wheatley curled a free kick narrowly over the bar following an agricultural challenge on the edge of the area.
Adam Wrightson had come to replace Damen Mullen and the lively winger almost halved the deficit with 19 minutes remaining. He twisted one way and another in the box before slashing a right footed effort that flew in the side netting.
Another goal did arrive but it was for the hosts as David Syers put Darlington 3-0 up. A cross was put into the box by Caton and Syers was able to power the ball home with Peter Jameson helpless.
As the game drew to a conclusion, Dan Maguire went close as his right-footed drive was tipped wide by Pears who kept his clean sheet intact.
Greg Rutherford had the final chance of the game to get a consolation for the Spartans. The target man beautifully brought down the ball on his chest, before turning and firing an effort narrowly wide of the near post with Pears beaten.
Next up for Spartans is a home game on Saturday against promotion chasing Brackley Town. It is sure to be a fantastic game one of the league’s highest scorers go up against one of the best defensive sides in the league.
Darlington FC: Pears, Trotman, O’Hanlon, Turnbull, Heaton, Galbraith, Caton (Gillies, 77), Wheatley, Styche (c) (Saunders, 81), Syers, Thompson (Scott, 87).
Subs not used: Bancroft, Brown.
Blyth Spartans: Jameson, Atkinson, Liddle, Mullen (Wrightson, 61), Buddle, Hutchinson, Rivers (Rutherford, 69), Reid, Maguire, Hopson, Dale (c).
Subs not used: MacDonald, Laidler, Watson.
Referee: Mr. A. Jackson