Match Report | Warrington Town 0-2 Blyth Spartans | National League North | 2023/24

Graham Fenton’s Spartans secured back-to-back wins at the beginning of a campaign for the first time in eight years as goals from JJ O’Donnell and JJ Hooper won three points on the road against Warrington Town.

An unchanged eleven began the fixture, with only Rio Joisce replacing Billy Gordon among the substitutes at Cantilever Park as The Yellows hosted their first-ever National League North fixture in front of a crowd of 1034.

The opening exchanges within 10 minutes of the clash presented a steady affair as both sides aimed to find their rhythm. 

Rhys Evans was called into his defensive duties as he made a vital block at the near post to prevent Isaac Buckley-Rickett’s effort from hitting the target.

Moments later, Graham Fenton’s side forged their first attempt on goal as Nicky Deverdics curled in a free-kick where the advancing Finn Cousin-Dawson met the ball at an acute angle, his effort trickled wide of the target.

Just after 13 minutes, JJ O’Donnell broke the deadlock. JJ Hooper initially had a headed effort diverted off target before the loose ball was eventually recycled to the left flank seeing Curtis Round produce a magnificent touch and cross for O’Donnell to slide the ball past Tony Thompson in The Yellows’ goal.

A sweeping move just after 20 minutes on the opposing flank involving Evans, Deverdics and O’Donnell eventually saw the latter’s effort blocked from 20-yards out; the hosts then made a rapid break which resulted in forcing Alex Mitchell to dive low to keep Bohan Dixon at bay. 

Sean Williams was presented with an opportunity to test Mitchell once more from a dead-ball situation 25-yards out but he steered his free-kick over the crossbar just before the half-hour mark.

Jack Bodenham was put under pressure on 34 minutes with an awkward pass back which saw the Spartans defender take down Buckley-Ricketts just outside of the penalty area denying a clear goal-scoring opportunity seeing a red card brandished by referee Liam Corbett. 

Williams’ following free-kick sailed over the crossbar before Buckley-Ricketts advanced beyond the defensive line and attempted to lob Mitchell, but the Spartans shot-stopped clawed away the attempt in fine fashion. 

Despite being reduced to 10 men, Spartans doubled their advantage as O’Donnell turned provider to tee up JJ Hooper in an identical position to which O’Donnell scored but set up from the right flank. Hooper was on hand to peel off the back of Evan Gumbs and sweep the ball under Thompson on the stroke of half-time.

The hosts had a golden opportunity to pull a goal back in added time from the penalty spot as Jon Shaw, who replaced Round to tighten up in defence once Bodenham had left the field, was adjudged to handle in the area. Dixon stepped up to take the kick, however, he smashed his effort off the crossbar, ensuring Spartans retained their two-goal lead heading into the interval.

Half-time: Warrington Town 0-2 Blyth Spartans 

Warrington aimed to begin the second half on the front foot and utilise their man advantage when Aaron Bennett crafted space from close range to strike on goal, but Mitchell narrowed the angle to preserve Spartans’ clean sheet. 

Dixon and Mitch Duggan both had chances leading up to the hour mark to get their side back into the game; a header from the former, and a curling strike from the latter both failed to hit the target, though. 

Deverdics produced a sublime chipped pass for Hooper who had broken the offside trap, however, Spartans’ number nine could not connect cleanly with the ball to pose Thompson with any real danger.

Lewis Knight was introduced for Hooper on 62 minutes, and the Gateshead loanee was quick to make an instant impression as he did last weekend. A burst of pace saw Knight breeze past Peter Clarke to advance on goal, however, he partly lost control of balance and was unable to trouble Thompson in the hosts’ goal.

With 15 minutes left on the clock, O’Donnell crafted an opening on the right flank before cutting inside to cross near to the back post; the ball evaded the run of Knight in the area but Thompson was scrambling across his goal line as it fell agonisingly wide of the upright.

Evans denied Dixon from breaking forward into Spartans’ half, committing a tactical foul; it prompted Dixon to kick out at Evans and a red card followed for the Warrington man seeing the field even in numbers heading into the final 10 minutes.

Knight yet again put on the burners to set himself through on goal where he was able to muster a clear-cut opportunity, however, he was denied by Thompson one-on-one before the ball deflected out of play.

An in-swinging corner from Deverdics found O’Donnell in space eight-yards out from goal where he met the ball with a glancing header which fell narrowly wide of the mark.

Two top-draw saves in quick concession from Thompson prevented Jordan Hickey and O’Donnell from extending the scoreline before Connor Woods hit a sweet volley on target which Mitchell read and held well, keeping his eye on the ball coming through a host of bodies in the penalty area in added time of the second half.

Full-time: Warrington Town 0-2 Blyth Spartans

Warrington Town: Tony Thompson, Andy White (Matty Grivosti, 45+1′), Tom Hannigan, Evan Gumbs, Connor Woods, Sean Williams, Aaron Bennett (Dec Walker, 74′), Bohan Dixon, Isaac Buckley-Ricketts, Mitch Duggan, Peter Clarke.

Subs not used: Dan Atherton and Deacon Smalley.

Blyth Spartans: Alex Mitchell, Rhys Evans, Michael Liddle, Finn Cousin-Dawson, Jack Bodenham, Jordan Hickey, JJ Hooper (Lewis Knight, 62′), JJ O’Donnell, Curtis Round (Jon Shaw, 36′), Nicky Deverdics, Will McGowan (Harrison Clark, 84’).

Subs not used: Charlie Aitken and Rio Joisce.

Goals | JJ O’Donnell 13′ and JJ Hooper 44′

Attendance: 1034

Referee: Liam Corbett

Graham Fenton’s post-match interview following the 2-0 victory against Warrington Town

Next up for Spartans is another away clash in North Yorkshire on Tuesday night against Scarborough Athletic.

Posted by BSAFC Media Team