By Glen Maxwell
In association with:
ALAN McLEAN FCMA CGMA
Chartered Management Accountant
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League
Tuesday August 23 2016
Blyth Spartans 3-3 Ashton United
Tom Wade was denied his 100th win as Blyth Spartans manager on Tuesday night in this Evo-Stik Premier Division top of the table clash, thanks to a late slice of luck for Ashton United.
The away side had twice went ahead through Gary Gee and Jack Dorney, but Blyth equalised through Daniel Maguire and a penalty from Stephen Turnbull to go into the break all square.
Spartans finally went ahead through Sean Reid with 20 minutes to go, but Lee Gaskell had the last laugh with time running out – as he charged down Peter Jeffries’ clearance in the 82nd minute and the ball fell nicely for him to slot home.
The hosts started the game in the ascendancy and looked dangerous in the final third straight away.
Chris Bell – making his first start of the season, in place of Michael Liddle – fired a ball to the back post to Reid, who cushioned a header back across goal to Michael Richardson. The stylish midfielder tried to flick the the ball over his head to create an opening, but got too much on it and Paul Phillips was able to gather.
Spartans then thought they scored the opener with five minutes gone. Turnbull curled a free-kick around the Ashton wall from 20 yards, but could only watch as the ball cannoned off the post with Phillips static in the middle of his goal.
The hosts were made to rue that missed chance when United took the lead with their first real chance of the game. Gee was played in from the left and was left with the simple task of slotting the ball past an advancing Jeffries.
Blyth continued to pile the pressure on the visitors despite going a goal down and looked certain to restore parity when Pattison picked out Ryan Hutchinson at the back post with a cross. The defender could only head the ball wide, but his blushes were spared – as the assistant flagged for offside.
Pattison was then involved again as he was bundled to the ground just outside the penalty area. Robert Dale worked the ball back into the box after the free-kick was cleared, but none of his teammates were able to get a goal-bound touch on his fizzed low cross.
Spartans continued their dominance and were soon rewarded for their effort just before the half-hour mark.
A fantastic cross from Andrew Cartwright evaded the defender and found Maguire at the back post. “Nipa” fired home from a tight angle past Phillips, who couldn’t get enough of a hand on the ball to stop it from hitting the back of the net.
The hosts could then have been ahead less than a minute later, but were left frustrated by an eerie sense of deja-vu from a set-piece.
Dale took over from Turnbull at the dead-ball and looked to have scored when he curled the ball around the Ashton wall with Phillips static. However, he was left frustrated when his strike ballooned off the crossbar and away.
As had been the case when they opened the scoring, Ashton came out of nowhere to retake the lead with just six minutes left of the first half.
Daniel Wilkins cut the ball back to Dorney at the edge of the Blyth area and the central midfielder curled a lovely effort just inside the post and out of Jeffries’ reach.
Spartans responded instantly and had Michael Andrews to thank for a great bit of game reading by the referee.
Reid was fouled 25 yards out from goal, but play was allowed to continue with Richardson on the left. The former Newcastle United midfielder played the ball to Maguire in the box, but the striker was brought down by Gee in the box and the referee had no option but to point to the spot.
Turnbull stepped up to dispatch the spot-kick, but the home supporters had their hearts in their mouths when Phillips appeared to have dived down low to his left and get a touch on the penalty. However, despair soon turned into relief when the ball appeared to bounce down under the Ashton goalkeeper and into the roof of the net.
Wilkins was then shown the first yellow card of the evening for a late challenge on Chris Bell in the half’s last piece of action before the break.
Blyth kept up their momentum straight after the break and could have been ahead, but for some last-ditch defending from United. Dale got down the left once again and tried to cut the ball back to Maguire on the penalty spot, but Jason Gorton was able to stretch and get a foot on the ball to just intercept the cross.
Dale got past Cavell Coo once again ten minutes later, but this the right-back had no intention of letting the Blyth captain get into the box – as he hacked him down on the left wing to receive Ashton’s second caution of the game.
Blyth continued to stamp their authority on the second half and were agonisingly close to going ahead from a Pattison cross for the second time in as many games. Both Reid and Maguire were part of a group of bodies unable to get a touch on his cross from the right, but the ball evaded all of them and went just wide of the far post.
The away side had been quiet for most of the second spell, but nearly popped up with a third goal with an hour on the clock.
Lee Gaskell cut back onto his left foot and fired a low drive across goal, looking for his fourth goal of the season. Fortunately for Blyth, it was always destined to go wide and no one was able to get on the end of it to turn it towards goal.
Spartans took full advantage of that let off soon after – as the home side finally took the lead for the first time in the game with 20 minutes. A great move from Blyth ended with Richardson playing in Reid, who finished past Phillips off the post to score his first goal of the season.
The home side had looked good value for the win, but were left cursing their luck in the 82nd minute when they conceded an equaliser.
Gavin Caines didn’t get quite enough on his back pass to Jeffries and his clearance was charged down by Gaskell. The ball fell kindly for Ashton’s top scorer, who slotted the ball home despite Jeffries’ desperate efforts to keep it out.
As the game entered four minutes of added time, the visitors were shouting for a penalty when Dorney went down in the box. To the relief of the majority of the 562 fans inside Croft Park, the referee refused to blow his whistle.
Blyth then had their own shout for another spot-kick when Maguire was sandwiched in the Ashton area, but again Andrews couldn’t be persuaded to point to the spot.
It remains to be seen if this result is one point gained or two points dropped but, either way, Spartans will look to return to winning ways when they travel to Grantham Town on Saturday afternoon.
Blyth Spartans: Jeffries, Cartwright, Bell, Caines, Hutchinson, Turnbull, Pattison, Richardson (Rivers 80), Maguire, Reid, Dale.
Subs not used: Parker, Armstrong, Pell, McHugh.
Ashton United: Phillips, Coo, Mason, Gorton, Conner, Moses (Lees 75), Dorney, Gee, Wilkins (Banim 80), Gaskell, Baguley (Crowther 75).
Subs not used: Smith, Frost.
Spartans Man of the Match: Matty Pattison
Wade Lambastes Spartans For “Terrible” Ashton Result
Spartans boss Tom Wade has labelled Blyth’s 3-3 draw with Ashton United a “terrible result” – after seeing his side surrender the lead late on in unfortunate circumstances.
United striker Lee Gaskell was able to charge down Peter Jeffries’ clearance from Gavin Caines’ back pass, with the ball falling favourably for him to slot home an 82nd minute equaliser.
And Wade was left feeling deflated at the final whistle, following a “flat” performance from his players and the normally vocal Croft Park faithful.
Wade said: “It’s a terrible result. We only managed to take a point when we could have had three quite easily.
“We didn’t play well. We didn’t play badly, but we didn’t play as well as we do normally.
“I just think we were flat from the start. The crowd was flat and the whole night was flat really.
“We needed the crowd to help us to get going. I know some supporters will say that it’s up to the players to get them going, but we’ve just got to get together and really make some noise in this place.
“We started terribly and, sometimes, you need the crowd to get you going. However, the crowd looked nervous, we looked nervous and, for whatever reason, we couldn’t give ourselves a lift.
“At times, the crowd were excellent. However, they’ve got to see when we’re down and pick us back up with their fantastic support.”
It wasn’t all doom and gloom for the Spartans gaffer though – as he feels the disappointment at the Robins result shows just how far the club has risen in recent seasons.
Wade added: “To be disappointed with just a draw against Ashton is a good indication of just how far we have came as a team in recent years, because I do think we are one of the best sides in the league.
“It’s a bad point, but we’ll take it at the end of the day.”
Both sides were left frustrated in added time at the end of the second half, when Jack Dorney was brought down in the Blyth box before Daniel Maguire was sandwiched in the Ashton area. Referee Michael Andrews failed to give either side a penalty, but Wade believes that both incidents should have resulted in a spot-kick.
He said: “I think both shouts were penalties. I spoke to their manager, who was also their goalkeeper, at the end and he said our one was a definite penalty.
“The way it looked, I also thought their one was a penalty as well. It’s probably evened itself out but, if the referee gives one of them, that team would have gone on to win.”
Spartans now face another long away trip on Saturday, when they travel to Grantham Town and Wade is confident that the league’s fourth-placed side can return to winning ways on the road.
Wade said: “I always think we’re going to win. I never ever think we’re going to lose.
“I hate losing and I’m just so positive about the club at the moment. We’ve got top quality players across the park and we’ll be looking to use as many of them as we can in the next two games over the bank holiday weekend.
“We’ve got a good squad and Robbie [Dale] hasn’t really started yet. Once he gets off the ground again, he’ll carry us again this season.”
And having missed out on recording his 100th win at the club, Wade will get another chance to become a Spartans centurion at the weekend. However, he is adamant that his is only interested in his side’s success and has no time for personal milestones.
Wade insisted: “I’m not really one for stats, to be honest. I’m just happy to be Blyth’s manager.
“It’s a privilege to be Blyth manager, because I’m a Blyth supporter. I just want the club to do well and if I win or someone else does, I’m not bothered – as long as the club is winning.
“We’ve got the chance to do something special this season, which we should have done last season had the squad not been too short. For me, I just want to do it for the lads.
“As long as the lads are winning games and are happy, I’m over the moon.”