Report by Phil Castiaux
In association with:
ALAN McLEAN FCMA CGMA
Chartered Management Accountant
Evo-Stik NPL Premier Division
Saturday 23rd January 2016
Nantwich Town 1 – 2 Blyth Spartans
Blyth went in to Saturday’s game top of the league with hosts Nantwich Town in fourth spot.
Nantwich manager Phil Parkinson had commented, pre-match: ‘With Blyth you know you are going to have a football game, not an arm wrestling test. They play football like we do.”
His words were prescient. The game was an enthralling encounter characterised by some excellent attacking play and combative, but fair, physicality.
Blyth gave 21 year old Wilson Kneeshaw his league debut as a lone central striker.
Nantwich were out of the blocks quicker than the visitors who had had a journey just short of five hours. Josh Hancock dummied and allowed overlapping fullback Lewis Short to fire, left footed, just over the Blyth bar. The Dabbers took the lead on six minutes when Elliott Osborne picked out Andy White and the full back fired first time. His shot took a deflection and wrong footed Adam McHugh in the Blyth goal.
It took 15 minutes before the Spartans were able to establish a foot-hold in the game.
Captain Robbie Dale first found Kneeshaw 10 yards from goal but his shot was blocked and cleared by White. Kneeshaw was again involved when a ball from Paul Robinson gave his the chance to shoot again but this time his effort was well saved by Terry Smith, the home goalkeeper.
Blyth deservedly got on level terms when, on 23 minutes, a deep Dale cross was expertly headed back across goal by Matty Wade in to the path of Nathan Buddle who fired home from five yards.
Within minutes Blyth were claiming a penalty when Kneeshaw appeared to be barged down in the box.
Nantwich were attacking on the break and Osborne snatched at a volley 16 yards from goal which didn’t trouble McHugh.
Blyth were now upping the pace of the match. A Robinson shot was saved by Smith before a Dale effort was well blocked and Kneeshaw came close but was denied by a brave save at his feet by the busy Smith.
The teams went in 1-1 at the break.
It was the visitors who had the first opportunity after the interval when Kneeshaw laid off the ball to Michael Richardson but he scuffed his shot and the danger was cleared.
Nantwich went on to dominate the next 15 minutes. Liam Shotton found himself in space and his shot was somehow cleared off McHugh’s goal line and away for a corner. The host’s pressure was short lived, however and McHugh went on to have a very quiet time of things.
On 75 minutes a Dale free kick found the head of Buddle who headed narrowly wide of Smith’s post. A delicious flick by Dale put Aaron Wearmouth clear in the penalty area. His cross was about to be met by Richardson at the far post but he was bundled over and the referee signalled for a penalty.
Dale stepped up to take the kick and his low effort was palmed away by keeper Smith. The Blyth skipper reacted sharply but his second attempt at goal was parried away once more by Smith into the path of Blyth’s Wilson Kneeshaw whose shot was cleared off the Nantwich line.
Despite this set back the Spartans continued to pour forward while also remaining aware of the danger posed by the Dabbers’ speedy breakaways. Blyth’s vigilant back four were proving impenetrable.
Richardson had a shot blocked before a Buddle effort was cleared off the goal line. Blyth’s pressure told when, on 84 minutes, a beautifully flighted Dale corner was met, at the far post, with a towering header from Matty Wade which rocketed in to the top corner of the net to give the visitors the lead.
Blyth then went on to see out the five minutes of added time to record a fine victory over a very good Nantwich side.
1. Terry Smith, 2. Andy White, 3.Lewis Short, 4. Jon Moran, 5, Ben Harrison, 6. Elliott Osborne, 7. Steve Jones (12. Matty Kosylo 54), 8. Sam Hall, 9. Liam Shotton (14. Mat Bailey 55), 10. Matt Bell, 11. Josh Hancock (15. Darren Thornton 80).
Unused subs: 13. Krystain Burzynski, 16. Josh Gordon
1. Adam McHugh, 2. Alex Nicholson, 3. Jordan Watson, 4. Nathan Buddle, 5. Ryan Hutchinson, 6. Neal Hooks (16. Damen Mullen 64), 7. Michael Richardson, 8. Paul Robinson (14. Aaron Wearmouth 59), 9. Wilson Kneeshaw, 10. Matthew Wade, 11. Robert Dale.
Unused subs: 12. Dillon Morse, 13. Danny Parker, 15. Ashley Davis
Referee: Martin Woods. Assistants: Scott Walker and Richie Hughes.
The photo is by John Hague