In association with:
ALAN McLEAN FCMA CGMA
Chartered Management Accountant
by Stuart Dick
Vanarama National league North
Tuesday November 20 2018
Blyth Spartans 3-2 Stockport County
Spartans made it back-to-back 3-2 wins in the Vanarama National League North in monsoon like conditions at Croft Park.
A Dan Cowan own goal on 24 minutes set Spartans on their way before a stunning Sean Reid strike doubled the lead three minutes later.
Adam Thomas responded with a header 10 minutes before the interval but a deft Connor Oliver finish two minutes into the second half restored the 2-goal lead.
Frank Mulhern’s deflected effort reduced arrears again on 66 minutes, but Blyth held out to secure a vital three points.
Spartans made two changes to the side that beat Curzon Ashton on Saturday – Aaron Cunningham replacing the unwell Louis Laing, with Connor Oliver replacing the unlucky Bradley Fewster, who moved to the bench.
The first opportunity of the game fell to the visitors when Mulhern broke in behind the Spartans backline, Peter Jameson on hand to dive at the striker’s feet inside the six-yard box.
Spartans’ first opportunity arrived on 10 minutes when Robert Dale’s cross was headed goal-ward by Reid, Ben Hinchliffe on hand to save comfortably.
A minute later the energetic Mulhern attempted an ambitious overhead kick from inside the area, his effort sailing wide of the left hand upright.
Mulhern again caused problems on 17 minutes when a County counter-attack saw him find space inside the penalty area on the right. His low cross was arrowing towards the back post when Jameson stuck out a leg, denying the Hatters a simple tap-in.
Much like on Saturday, Spartans opener was created by the irrepressible Dale. He picked up the ball in midfield and found the run of Maguire with a defence splitting pass, the England ‘C’ International couldn’t slide the ball past Hinchliffe, but the rebound bounced off the shin of Cowan and into the back of the net.
If the first goal was a bit fortuitous, the second was as equally delightful. Maguire the catalyst this time as he brought a long ball down on the edge of the area. He shaped to shoot but County got bodies in front of him.
Maguire then laid the ball off to Reid, 20-yards from goal who took a touch before unleashing a thunderbolt of an effort into the top right-hand corner, past the despairing dive of Hinchliffe.
Jameson then had a busy few minutes, firstly tipping Sam Warburton’s header over the bar before making an equally impressive save from Elliot Osbourne minutes later.
With 10 minutes to go before the interval, the Hatters responded. Thomas rose highest from an Osbourne corner to head home at the near post.
Spartans almost restored their two-goal lead a minute later, Hinchliffe denying Green, who’s long range effort was tipped round the post.
But two minutes after the break, Spartans did find their third. Another telling Dale through-ball found Oliver in stride before lifting the ball over the leg of Hinchliffe and finding the bottom right hand corner.
County looked to respond, and Jameson was forced into another save on 52 minutes, Matty Warburton’s strike denied by the former Darlington man, Aaron Cunningham completing the clearance.
With Spartans in control, it was their own gung-ho mentality that allowed County back into the game on 66 minutes.
A misplaced pass in the final third – which Sean Reid was unable to gather on the stretch – turned into a counter-attack led by Warburton down the left.
He found Mulhern who took aim from 22-yards, a diving Jarrett Rivers getting a leg in the way, but his deflection floated the ball over the dive of Jameson and into the top corner.
13 minutes from time, Reid thought he’d scored his second of the night. Rivers corner was headed powerfully goal-ward by the goalscoring midfielder, but Hinchliffe dived low to his right and kept the effort at bay.
531 brave souls at Croft Park in the hardy rain witnessed a tense final 10 minutes, plus six more added after that, but Stockport couldn’t muster that final golden chance to send their supporters home happy, and Spartans took the three points.
Blyth now turn their attention to the FA Trophy, and the visit of Marske United on Saturday afternoon, 3pm at Croft Park.
Blyth Spartans | Jameson, Cunningham, Liddle, Green (Mullen 71), J Watson, Horner, Rivers (Wrightson 91), Oliver, Maguire (Fewster 82), Reid, Dale.
Unused | I Watson, Holmes
Stockport County | Hinchliffe, Minihan (Stott 53), Duxbury, Keane, Palmer, Cowan, Thomas, Walker (Bell 53), Mulhern, Osbourne, Warburton (Dimaio 91)
Unused | Ormson, Turnbull
Referee | Aaron Bannister
Attendance | 531
Spartans’ Man of the Match | Dan Maguire