Report by Luke Bidwell
In association with:
ALAN McLEAN FCMA CGMA
Chartered Management Accountant
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League
Saturday 2nd April 2016
Ilkeston 3-4 Blyth Spartans
Robbie Dale was again the hero as Blyth Spartans produced an astonishing comeback from 3-0 down to snatch a vital three points against Ilkeston at the New Manor Ground.
The Robins raced into a three-goal inside 37 minutes but Sean Reid’s header gave Blyth hope heading into half-time and Dale’s deflected effort put them to within one.
It looked as though time had run out before Reid pounced with a minute remaining to tie the sides up at 3-3.
But it wasn’t the final drama as Dale’s fine solo effort in the final minute of seven added on sealed a fourth straight League success.
Blyth were slow out of the blocks and it could have been even worse had Luke Shaw’s eighth-minute penalty not been superbly saved by Adam McHugh, down to his left-hand side, after Alex Nicholson’s foul inside the area.
But Shaw was to get his revenge two minutes later as he set free Haydn Goddard, whose teasing cross was turned into his own net by Nicholson under pressure from an Ilkeston attacker.
The Spartans started to show some adventure going forward through Arran Wearmouth. The winger crossed for Robbie Dale but he couldn’t head either side of ‘keeper Jahquil Hill, before Wearmouth himself had a goal chalked off for offside.
Just as they seemed to be building some momentum, two goals in six minutes left the visitors with a mountain to climb.
Jordan Watson’s throw-in somehow fell kindly for Goddard to tuck home from the edge of the area, before a sharp Ilkeston counter-attack – aided by an unfortunate slip by Nathan Buddle – set Luis Rose free and the winger finished with aplomb from 18 yards.
Undeterred by the three-goal deficit Blyth continued to come forward; Wilson Kneeshaw’s drive was tipped over by Hill, Dale had an effort cleared off the line before Reid’s header from Damen Mullen’s in-swinging free-kick clawed the deficit back to two.
The second-half was a slow-burner until Dale’s first strike on 57 minutes, spectacularly bringing down a high ball and firing past ‘keeper Hill on the turn via an Ilkeston deflection.
Ilkeston were still an active threat going forward as McHugh twice repelled strikes from Michael Williams before a glut of substitutes halted momentum on either side.
It sprung into life again with seven minutes remaining as two Reid headers went close – one going just wide, another cleared off the line – while Goddard’s corner almost crept in unaided at the near post.
Then with just a minute left, indecision in the hosts’ back line left keeper Hill stranded, substitute Paul Robinson headed back towards the danger zone and Reid was there first to steer home what looked to be the equaliser.
Both sides had chances within the first six minutes of stoppage time. Home winger Dexter Atkinson’s deft one-two left him one-on-one with McHugh but the Blyth custodian came out on top, and Reid’s hat-trick attempt on the volley was well-saved by Hill.
But just as it looked to be heading for a draw, Dale slalomed through the home defence and slammed a left-footed shot into the far corner, sending the travelling Green Army into raptures behind the goal.
Blyth Spartans: 1 Adam McHugh, 2 Alex Nicholson (14 Andrew Cartwright, 81’), 3 Jordan Watson, 4 Dillon Morse, 5 Nathan Buddle, 6 Damen Mullen, 7 Arran Wearmouth (12 Paul Robinson, 79’), 8 Sean Reid, 9 Wilson Kneeshaw (16 Michael Richardson, 60’), 10 Matthew Wade, 11 Robbie Dale. Unused subs: 15 Danny Parker, 19 Fabian Otte
Ilkeston: 1 Jahquil Hill, 2 Aiden Print, 3 Ryan Head, 4 Max Thornberry (16 Connor Walters, 72’), 5 Matt Baker, 6 Danny Gordon, 7 Luke Shaw (12 Dexter Atkinson, 83’), 8 Haydn Goddard, 9 Curtis Burrows, 10 Michael Williams, 11 Luis Rose. Unused subs: 14 David Jones, 15 Ben Morris, 17 Tevahn Tyrell