Blyth Spartans picked up their second pre-season victory at Newcastle Benfield on a balmy Tuesday evening, running out comfortable 3-1 winners at Sam Smith’s Park.
The visitors enjoyed plenty of early possession down the right, with trialist Luke Armstrong and Michael Richardson causing problems out wide. The latter stood up a cross towards the back post for Zak Atkinson, but the forward – top scorer with Northern Alliance champions Blyth Town last term – nodded over the crossbar.
When Spartans opened the scoring on 24 minutes, the telling attack came from the opposite flank. Moving towards the edge of the box, Alex Nicholson cut onto his favoured right foot before firing towards goal. The shot was parried by Andrew Grainger into the path of the arriving Armstrong, who duly tucked away the rebound.
Richardson was a whisker away from making it two with a sweetly struck half volley, while at the other end, ‘keeper Adam McHugh pulled off a remarkable double save at close quarters to deny Paul Brayson and Matty McCarthy. Blyth doubled their advantage on 35 minutes, Nicholson once again in the heart of the action. The marauding wideman was felled in the area, and though Richardson’s spot kick was expertly clawed out by Grainger, the 24-year-old bundled home at the second attempt.
Veteran forward Brayson, a former favourite at Croft Park, instantly halved the deficit with an acute low finish, but the Evo-stik Premier outfit restored their two-goal lead eleven minutes after the restart. Matty Pattison’s inswinging corner was met by substitute Sean Reid, whose powerful header gave Grainger no chance in the Benfield net.
The pair almost combined to extend that advantage on the hour. Pattison’s stinging drive was pushed away by Grainger, and though Reid won back possession in the box, his low effort was tipped onto the post by the home ‘keeper. Atkinson almost capped a promising performance with a late fourth, heading wide across the face of goal six minutes from time.
After another good workout, the side can expect to be put through their paces north of the border when they travel to Edinburgh Spartans this Saturday afternoon.