Northern Premier League 
13th September 2016, 7:45 PM
Blyth Spartans
1 - 0
Croft Park
Attendance: 522

Match Report

By Glen Maxwell

In association with:
Chartered Management Accountant

Evo-Stik Premier League
Tuesday September 13 2016

Blyth Spartans 1-0 Marine

A last-gasp penalty save from Spartans’ Adam McHugh ensured Blyth claimed all three points in their Evo-Stik Premier League clash with Marine.

Matty Pattison had put the hosts ahead through a penalty of his own in the 65th minute, which had seemed enough for Blyth to claim their first home win over the Mariners in three seasons.

However, they had goalkeeper McHugh to thank for keeping out Daniel Mitchley’s spot-kick in added time, before Chris Bell headed off the line in the last few seconds of the game to claim a priceless victory over the only side to beat Blyth so far this season.

Spartans got proceedings underway after an impeccably observed minute’s silence for Daniel Wilkinson, the Shaw Lane AFC player who unfortunately lost his life after collapsing during their Integro Doodson Sports Cup tie against Brighouse Town with a suspected heart attack.

The hosts had the game’s first real chance within the first two minutes of the game, when Sean Reid was fouled 30 yards from goal. Pattison stepped up looking to repeat his Halesowen Town heroics, but couldn’t keep his fierce free-kick on target.

The visitors had a set-piece of their own three minutes later, which Alex Davies could not do anything with but hit it straight into the Blyth wall. The Mariners’ midfielder was incensed with his shouts for a hand blocking his shot, but referee Graeme Hopper chose to ignore his appeal for a penalty.

In an opening spell that didn’t offer much for the neutral, it took another 15 minutes for the next real chance for either side and it fell the way of the hosts. Daniel Maguire picked the pocket of the Marine defence and had a run at goal. The striker shot under pressure from three, but his low-struck effort trickled wide of the post.

The monotonous nature of the first half so far soon gave way to literal end-to-end stuff – as both sides had excellent chances to take the lead.

A one-two between Ryan Hutchinson and Maguire saw the latter cross in for the defender, who pulled the trigger with a first-time volley.  “Hutchy” could only force a fantastic reaction save out of Calvin Hare, however, before Matthew Wade’s rebound effort was blocked away by a defender.

Marine then raced straight up the other end and Mitchley – the match winner in this season’s reverse fixture – tried to chip the ball in over an advancing Adam HcHugh at the edge of the Blyth area. The ball seemed destined for the net – despite Stephen Turnbull desperately trying to get back to prevent a goal – but, thankfully for Blyth, it bounced out just wide of the goal.

Joe Mwasile looked like a tricky little entity down the left-hand side at Marine and he seemed to be in a similar mood again – as he intercepted a loose pass from Gavin Caines and ran into the box. He evaded the challenge of Turnbull and hit the ball across goal, but Hutchinson was there to intercept and clear the danger.

While Mwaslie was a danger on the left for the visitors, Robert Dale was proving to be just as troublesome on the wing for Blyth.

The Blyth captain glided past right-back Joshua Brizzell and into the box, where his cut-back cross found its way to Sean Reid at the edge of the area. Last month’s Port of Blyth Player of the Month struck the ball with real venom and looked to have broken the deadlock, but Hare raced across and saved on the line.

Marine had looked dangerous on the break all half and it was through another quick attack that they had looked destined to score. Mitchley cut inside of last man Michael Liddle and had a shot, but the left-back was able to recover well enough to get a block in.

With half-time fast approaching, both sides were desperate to go in ahead and it was Maguire and Mitchley again who went closest for their respective sides with similar efforts.

“Nipa” was able to take control of Dale’s knock down in the Marine area, before opting to shoot on the turn. Blyth’s top goalscorer was unlucky to fire straight into the ground, with the ball bouncing straight into the grateful hands of Hare.

Mitchley was then found on the stroke of half-time by Alan Burton’s header, with Hutchinson breathing down his neck. Marine’s number nine was able to turn and get a strong strike away, which McHugh did well to keep out with the ball moving about in the air.

With Hopper’s whistle firmly in his mouth to signal the break, there was still time for him to play advantage following a Marine foul. Maguire looked to take full advantage with a shot from tight on the left, but Hare rushed out to save at his feet.

Mwasile showed no signs of stopping in the second half and went on another mazy run three minutes after the restart. He looked to play in Mitchley after cutting inside, but a vital interception from Turnbull ensured the scores remained level.

The same two Marine players then combined for another great chance on 54 minutes.  Mwaslie danced down the line and picked out Mitchley free at the far post. Mitchley opted to take it on the volley, but got it all wrong and hit the ball high into the heavens.

If Marine had wasted that half chance, then Spartans were also guilty of failing to capitalise on a golden chance just after the hour mark.

Matty Pattison was able to pick out Michael Richardson from the right. The substitute took a touch, but dragged his shot wide when he really should have scored.

That frustration at a lack of scoring was soon forgotten about, when Daniel Maguire was brought down in the box. Hopper took his time to point at the spot and – despite what seemed to be nearly all of the Marine team surrounding him to try and change his mind – awarded the hosts a penalty.

Pattison stepped up and fired the spot-kick straight down the middle of the goal, giving a diving Hare no chance of stopping it.

The former South African international then tried to turn provider for Richardson once again, with a neat little touch back at the edge of the box. Richardson fired first time, but it was always going off-target.

Mitchley then tried to show Richardson how it was done from long-range, when he fired a shot past the outstretched fingertips of McHugh. However. luckily for Spartans, his shot only struck the bottom of the post and bounced clear of danger.

As the game entered the last ten minutes, Maguire made a run down the right and whipped a ball in for Richardson to run onto near the penalty spot. The midfielder tried his hardest to get any sort of touch on the ball to turn it goalwards, but the ball just evaded him.

In the last of four added minutes at the end of the 90, Marine were thrown a life-line, when Hopper seemingly missed a foul on Dale and opted instead to award the away side a penalty for an alleged pulling of an away shirt.

Mitchley looked to be a thorn in Blyth’s side once again when he sent his penalty to McHugh’s left, but the Spartans stopper lept across and parried it away to safety.

By this point, Marine were throwing everything at the Spartans goal in a desperate effort to claim a share of the spoils and looked again to have scrambled in a late equaliser from the resulting corner. A header from Liam Goulding at the back post was destined to draw the Mariners level, but the Bell soon tolled for the visitors – as Blyth’s right-back leapt up to nod the ball off the line, mere seconds before the full-time whistle.

With Buxton not in action in the league until Saturday, Spartans now open a three-point gap at the top of the Evo-Stik Premier League. They just have the small matter of a tasty local Emirates FA Cup second qualifying round tie against FA Vase holders Morpeth Town on Saturday to prepare for now.

Blyth Spartans: McHugh, Bell, Liddle, Caines, Hutchinson, Turnbull (Parker 90+3), Pattison (Nicholson 81), Wade, Maguire, Reid (Richardson 57), Dale.
Subs not used: Armstrong, Jeffries.

Marine: Hare, Brizell, Short, Goulding, Bellew (Whyte 88), Threlfall, Davies (Hughes 81), Burton, Mitchley, Lindfield, Mwasile.
Subs not used:, Smart, Foley, Willis.

Attendance: 522

Spartans Man of the Match: Ryan Hutchinson


Assistant Hooks Happy With “Hard-Fought” Win Over Marine

Spartans might not have made it easy for themselves in their 1-0 victory over Marine, but assistant manager Neal Hooks was delighted to see Blyth dig in and grind out a well-earned win.

Matty Pattison scored his fourth goal of the season from the penalty spot just after the hour mark, to finally put a frustrated Spartans ahead. However, the home side then conceded a last-gasp penalty in the third of four minutes of added time.

Adam McHugh denied Daniel Mitchley by saving his spot-kick, but it took for Chris Bell’s headed clearance off the line from the resulting corner to put the result beyond a doubt for Blyth.

Hooks might have hoped that his side could have secured the result a lot than they did, but he was full of praise for Marine – after the Merseyside-based side pushed Spartans all the way for a second time this season.

He said: “I thought it was a hard-fought win. We didn’t really play at our best, but Marine pressed us well and they stretched us.

“They were really good, it has to be said. However, when you want to win the league or get promoted, you need to scrape victories when you’re not at your best and that’s what we did.

“It was a mistake that cost us the game down there, really, and it was a very disappointing result. They’re the only team so far to beat us this season and, again, they’ve worked us very hard.

“I think, at times, we didn’t match their work-rate and that’s a little disappointing. It’s always nice to avoid letting a team do the double over you in a season though, so we’ve got to be happy with that.”

The game’s main talking points revolved around the penalties awarded to each side, but Tom Wade’s number two wasn’t entirely convinced by either incident.

Hooks added: “They were two penalties that should never have been, in my opinion. I didn’t think either of them were, certainly our’s.

“None of our players appealed for it, from what I noticed anyway, and a lot of the lads have said neither of them were penalties. That said, we took our reward from that and – unfortunately for them – they didn’t.”

Hooks also commended McHugh for his match-winning penalty save and has backed the keeper – who started on the season on the bench behind Peter Jeffries – to push on in the upcoming games.

The 28-year-old said: “It’s very positive to see Adam keeping that out and his confidence will be soaring now. He’s a big lad with a big frame, so that will certainly have helped.

“He’s guessed the right way and it was an excellent save. The lads all appreciated it and, sometimes, they’re the moments keepers need to push on from.”

McHugh’s dramatic save in added time wasn’t the first instance of this happening this season, but Hooks admits there was no chance of Robert Dale’s penalty heroics in the 2-1 win at Grantham Town last month.

“Obviously, Robbie’s got a 100 percent clean sheet record,” Hooks joked. “However, it would have been a bit disrespectful had we taken Adam out.”

Along with McHugh, Marine keeper Calvin Hare also drew the plaudits for his performance at Croft Park and Hooks had nothing but admiration for both number ones.

He said: “It was frustrating before we finally managed to get the breakthrough. Their keeper’s pulled a couple of good saves.

“We were huffing and puffing and we did carve out a couple of really good chances, but the keeper had a good game and made some great saves at vital times.

“At the other end, we’ve made blocks when we’ve needed to and Adam and Belly do what they have to at the end of the game. Both sides defended well but, thankfully, that little bit of luck you need has gone in our favour.”

By hanging on for all three points against the Mariners, Blyth have now recorded five straight wins in all competitions. However, Hooks readily admits that form will go out of the window when they take on FA Vase holders Morpeth Town in the Emirates FA Cup second qualifying round on Saturday.

Hooks said: “No matter how we win the game, a win’s a win and it gives us confidence going into the Morpeth game.We were excellent last weekend and put Sutton out of sight, but today we weren’t at our best and scraped a 1-0 by the skin of our teeth.

“Morpeth will be a different challenge altogether. We should be going into the game full of confidence and we should be expecting to win, but it’s a cup game; it’s a one-off and you just don’t know what’s going to happen on the day.”


11 Robbie Dale (c)


Michael Richardson ← Sean Reid
Alex Nicholson ← Matty Pattison
Danny Parker ← Stephen Turnbull