Report by Phil Castiaux
In association with:
ALAN McLEAN FCMA CGMA
Chartered Management Accountant
Evo-Stik NPL Premier Division
Saturday 9th January 2016
Halesowen Town 0 – 1 Blyth Spartans
On Saturday Blyth travelled to Halesowen who had lost just three of their previous games at home.
The Spartans welcomed back Nathan Buddle, on loan from Gateshead, but were without the injured Daniel Maguire.
A torpid first half where both sides were disappointing was followed by a second period where the Spartans upped their game and deservedly ran out 1-0 winners.
In the first half, on a heavy pitch, stylish football proved to be elusive and the contest was scrappy and shapeless. The first action of any note came after 26 minutes when Halesowen’s Kaiman Anderson shot just over the Blyth bar from the edge of the penalty box. Blyth responded when Neal Hooks – making his 250th appearance for the Spartans – found Robbie Dale well positioned in the box but the Blyth captain was unable to get a shot away.
Half an hour in to the game both goalkeepers might as well have been sitting with a cup of tea in the stand, such was their lack of involvement.
Five minutes before the break good passing between Alex Nicholson and Robbie Dale put in Michael Richardson but the Blyth midfielder just failed to connect with ball from ten yards out. Halesowen immediately went up the other end of the pitch and a header from Michael Turner flew narrowly past Blyth keeper Adam McHugh’s post.
After the break the weather worsened with driving wind and rain, albeit slightly in Blyth’s favour, but mercifully the football improved.
The Spartans emerged with new vigour and a higher tempo to their play.
A Robbie Dale free kick was well saved by Shaun Rowley in the hosts‘ goal before a Richardson effort from 20 yards was comfortably collected by the Yeltz keeper. Blyth were building in momentum and Halesowen’s Malcolm Melvin almost scored a spectacular headed own goal when under pressure.
Blyth’s dominance paid off after 66 minutes when a neat flick by the energetic Sean Reid found Dale in the box where he was clearly fouled. Dale himself took the resulting penalty and fired confidently past Rowley’s right hand to put Blyth ahead.
The home side almost equalised five minutes later when McHugh had to palm away a dangerous free kick by Aaron Griffiths.
Nevertheless it was Blyth who were in control and Richardson forced Rowley to save well with his legs from close range before a stinging Paul Robinson drive was well saved by Rowley who managed to push the ball on to the bar and away to safety.
Blyth’s Reid suffered what, at first, looked like a nasty injury as the final whistle approached and there was a scare for the visitors in the last minute of normal time when a curling effort, from distance, by Griffiths hit the Blyth bar and rebounded out of play.
Referee Guy Stretton played nine added minutes but the Spartans kept their concentration and saw the game out.
This was never a pretty game to watch but from Blyth’s point of view it was a very well executed three points resulting from a performance which showed guts, togetherness and a steely resolve.
Halesowen: 1. Shaun Rowley, 2. Luke Connelly, 3. Aaron Griffiths, 4. Jay Denny (capt.), 5. Joseph Hull, 6. Ashley Parsons-Smith (Michael Turner 12), 7. Asa Charlton, 8. Daniel Bragoli (George Forsyth 80) 9. Kaiman Anderson, 10. Malcolm Melvin, 11. Jean-Michel Gueyes
Unused subs: 12. Kyle Morrision, 15. Chris Westwood
Blyth Spartans: 1. Adam McHugh, 2. Alex Nicholson, 3. Jordan Watson, 4. Nathan Buddle, 5. Ryan Hutchinson, 6. Neal Hooks, 7. Aaron Wearmouth ( Paul Robinson 70), 8. Michael Richardson, 9. Sean Reid (Ashley Davis 89), 10. Matthew Wade, 11. Robert Dale (capt.)
Unused subs: 12. Dillon Morse, 14. Damen Mullen, 16. Fabian Otte
Referee: Guy Stretton, Assistants: Minesh Gupta and Adam Bradley-Lewis
Photographs below courtesy of CRH Photography