Match Report | Worksop Town 5-0 Blyth Spartans | Emirates FA Cup Third Qualifying Round Replay | 2023/24

Credit: Mike Holmes | Worksop Town

Spartans exited the Emirates FA Cup at the third qualifying round stage last night away to Worksop Town, having suffered a 5-0 defeat following Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Croft Park resulting in the replay.

A Liam Hughes hat-trick and Alexs Starcenko’s brace secured progression for the Nottinghamshire-based outfit with all five goals being inflicted upon Graham Fenton’s side in the second half. 

Both Cedric Main and JJ Hooper were missing due to injury seeing Will McGowan feature in a false nine role while Charlie Aitken and JJ O’Donnell provided the attacking support on the left and right flank respectively.

Michael Liddle had to be withdrawn in the opening five minutes of the clash as he tweaked his hamstring which forced Rhys Evans to switch to left-back while Joe Oliver was introduced to the opposite side of defence.

The first half played out to be a well-contested period, however, the directness and physicality of The Tigers proved to cause numerous problems for Spartans’ backline.

Worksop carved out the first opportunity of the tie just after two minutes as Hamza Bencherif headed wide from a corner after a strong initial clearance from Jack Bodenham.

Having replaced the injured Michael Liddle on five minutes, Joe Oliver was called into his defensive duties almost immediately as heavy pressure from the hosts resulted in Vaughan Redford being teed up at the near post whose effort was bravely blocked by the Spartans substitute.

Graham Fenton’s side first established an attacking outlet just after 11 minutes of play as Oliver combined with JJ O’Donnell on the right flank. The latter cut inside and hit a curling left-footed strike on goal but Paul Cooper managed to hold on comfortably.

Alex Mitchell was called into a crucial piece of action with 10 minutes remaining before the interval; Terry Hawkridge produced a slick progressive run with close control before Starcenko struck the ball goalwards from the edge of the penalty area which required an outstretched fingertip save to keep the scoreline level.

On the stroke of half-time, Josh Wilde hauled Nicky Deverdics to the ground 20-yards out from goal. The Spartans skipper, who was making his 150th appearance for the Club, teed up Jordan Hickey for a powerful first-time strike, however, Hughes put his body on the line to deny Cooper being troubled in The Tigers’ goal.

Half-time: Worksop Town 0-0 Blyth Spartans

Ten minutes into the second period, Redford advanced into the final third for the hosts and steered a curling effort on target which forced Mitchell to back peddle and push the ball onto the crossbar and out for a corner. 

From the resulting set-pieces, Worksop found their breakthrough as Redford’s in-swinging cross was met by the head of Hughes who powered his attempt into the bottom right corner beyond Mitchell. 

Hughes’ physical and aerial presence was not all that Spartans should have been fixated on, though, as just seven minutes later he linked up with Wilde to produce a neat touch and one-two before curling a shot into the bottom corner to double the hosts’ advantage and his own tally for the evening. 

On 68 minutes, Hawkridge shaped up to float a cross into the penalty area from a free-kick, however, he opted to swerve a shot on goal in aim of wrong-footing Mitchell which saw a scramble across the goal line, but the effort rippled the side netting to Spartans’ delight. 

Worksop extended their lead on 71 minutes, though, as Hughes and Redford combined before Starcenko raced onto the latter’s pass and dispatched a calm finish into the bottom corner. 

With Spartans’ confidence shaken and no clear path to get back into the fixture, matters became worse with nine minutes remaining as Tigers substitute Luke Hall earned a penalty following a darting run on the right of the final third. Hughes stepped up and placed a firm strike to the left of Mitchell who was inches away from making contact with the ball, seeing the Worksop target man complete his hat-trick. 

Starcenko then topped off the scoring with a great individual effort as he burst through the midfield in stoppage time of the second half and fired a powerful shot past Mitchell – making it an evening to forget for Spartans as a potential fourth qualifying round tie at home against Boston United was well merited by the hosts. 

Full-time: Worksop Town 5-0 Blyth Spartans

Worksop Town | Paul Cooper, Deegan Atherton, Josh Wilde, Sam Wedgbury (Paul Green, 83’), Hamza Bencherif (C), George Taft, Terry Hawkridge, Aleks Starcenko, Vaughan Redford (Rostik Yaremenko, 83’), Liam Hughes, Jay Rollins (Luke Hall, 71’).

Subs not used | Ben Tomlinson, James Hanson, Colin Daniel and Jack Broadhead.

Goals | Liam Hughes 56’, 62’, 81’ and Aleks Starcenko 71’, 90+3’ 

Blyth Spartans | Alex Mitchell, Rhys Evans, Finn Cousin-Dawson, Jack Bodenham, Michael Liddle (Joe Oliver, 4’), Elliot Forbes, Jordan Hickey, Nicky Deverdics (Harry Arnison, 75’), Charlie Aitken, Will McGowan, JJ O’Donnell.

Subs not used | Michael Hogan, Jon Shaw and Harrison Clark.

Attendance | 517

Referee | Declan Brown

Graham Fenton’s post-match reaction to the 5-0 defeat away to Worksop Town

Spartans return to National League North action on Saturday as they will make the long journey to Oxfordshire to take on Banbury United.

Posted by BSAFC Media Team