By Glen Maxwell
In association with:
ALAN McLEAN FCMA CGMA
Chartered Management Accountant
Emirates FA Cup First Qualifying Round
Saturday September 3 2016
Blyth Spartans 3-1 Frickley Athletic
A brace from Sean Reid helped Spartans progress into the second qualifying round of this season’s Emirates FA Cup – as Blyth saw off fellow Evo-Stik Premier League side Frickley Athletic 3-1 at Croft Park.
The Port of Blyth Player of the Month award winner for August scored two identical second half finishes, before Nathan Curtis pulled one back with an outrageous strike.
With Frickley pushing to force a replay, it was left to super striker Daniel Maguire to secure safe passage by slotting the ball home in the last minute.
Spartans looked up for a cup run once more and flew out of the traps early on. A ball over deep looked destined to play in Maguire, but former Poland international Sebastian Malkowski rushed out to boot the ball away to safety ahead of the striker.
Blyth then had a golden chance to opening the scoring from Stephen Turnbull’s corner in the seventh minute. The stylish midfielder drilled a cross over to Matthew Wade, but his powered header was straight into the hands of the waiting Malkowski.
Frickley hadn’t had much of the ball in the opening spell, but could have scored with their first real chance three minutes later.
A fortuitous knock forward from defence bounced just over Ryan Hutchinson’s head in the Spartans box and gifted Carl Hinsley the chance of a shot at goal from a tight angle. Hutchinson was able to recover well though and got a block on the shot, to take the sting out of it for a grateful Adam McHugh to gather.
It was a case of imitation for Sean Reid soon after – as he produced a similar attempt to Hinsley’s effort. The attacking midfielder’s shot from the right produced a save from Malkowski, but he maybe should have cut the ball back to Maguire for a simple tap-in.
With 25 minutes gone, Spartans stepped up a gear and had two really good chances to go ahead.
First, Pattison was picked out perfectly by a weighted pass from Maguire. The former South Africa international tried to blast the ball across Malkowski, but the Frickley stopper produced a fine reaction save to keep his clean sheet intact.
A minute later, some trademark majestic play down the left from Robert Dale saw him wait for the defender to slide in before chipping a cross up to the far post. A waiting Wade leapt up ahead of teammate Pattison, but he could only watch as Malkowski comfortably gathered his second headed effort of the afternoon.
Frickley were getting frustrated and this was shown most clearly when Sam Akeroyd received the game’s first yellow card for kicking the ball away, following the award of a Blyth free-kick.
Athletic tested the home just after the half-hour mark when C Hinsley pulled the trigger inside the box. However, McHugh – making his first appearance of the season because of Peter Jeffries’ suspension – was able to save well and palm it away to safety.
As half-time approaches, Spartans went into full flow and had a number of chances to carve open the Evo-Stik Premier League’s bottom side.
Maguire twice set up Pattison, but the defender intercepted the first attempt when he tried to cut back onto his left foot. He was able to get a shot away from “Nipa’s” knock back two minutes later, but the ex-Newcastle United midfielder was unable to keep his fierce strike on target.
There was even time for penalty shouts from the majority of the 667-strong Croft Park faithful, following some questionable control from Gavin Caines’ header in the Frickley area. While referee Lindsey Robinson was ruling out a spot-kick for Spartans, Maguire opted to play on with a reaction strike but Malkowski was able to knock the ball behind for a corner.
Malkowski was called upon again two minutes prior to the end of the half and, if his reaction saves were impressive, his next stop was even better still.
A great flowing move from the hosts culminated in Wade teeing up a shot from the edge of the box. The ball was rising and appeared to be destined for the top right corner, but Malkowski leapt across his goal to pull off a fantastic fingertip save to deny Tom Wade’s son for the third time in the first half.
The hosts started the second half with the same intensity that they ended the first and had two good shouts for a penalty turned down within five minutes of the restart.
Wade picked up a low cross yards from goal and saw his first shot blocked, before the defender threw himself at the rebound and appeared to handle the ball with a raised arm. Two minutes later, Maguire was felled in the Frickley area but Robinson opted to signal for a corner instead.
Spartans didn’t let that frustration get to them though and their persistence paid off when they finally broke the deadlock in the 54th minute.
Turnbull played a lovely cross over to the near post from the left. The ball was met by Reid, who beat his man at the front post to stab a shot instinctively past Malkowski.
The old adage of London buses is often overused in football, but it was apt to describe Blyth’s rewards for their first half toil, when Reid scored an almost identical finish four minutes later.
Another glorious ball from Turnbull played in Dale down the right. The talismanic winger picked out Reid with a first-time cross and the 24-year-old finished in exactly the same way as he had for his first.
Reid then had a fantastic chance to grab a hat-trick when Turnbull once again floated in a good cross, this time from a free-kick. He had the goal at his mercy with a free header six yards out, but had his head in his head soon after – as the ball sailed agonisingly just over the crossbar.
Unfortunately for Reid, that would be the last chance for him to better his brace – as he made way for Michael Richardson in the 70th minute. He could take some consolation from the fact he left the pitch to a standing ovation, however.
Frickley were made to wait for their first real attempt following the break but, when it came, it certainly tested the Spartans stopper. Nathan Valentine struck from long-range, but McHugh was able to dive at full stretch to tip the fierce effort over the bar.
A late fightback never really looked like happening for the visitors, but that didn’t stop them looking for a fight in other ways. Macaulay Parkinson brought down Turnbull, which led to the pair both being booked following an altercation following the foul.
Valentine then picked up a booking soon after, to keep Robinson busy in the second half – as she showed Athletic their fifth yellow card of the afternoon.
Just as it looked as the league’s basement club were going to roll over and accept FA Cup elimination, Frickley’s Nathan Curtis pulled out a tremendous finish to halve the deficit.
Opting to hit one from long-range on the right side, Curtis’s flashing wonder-strike fizzed across McHugh and found its target – as it flew into the top-left corner. To show just how special the strike was, it was met by warm applause by the Blyth supporters.
Jarrett Rivers wrote his name into FA Cup folklore with the late winner in Spartans’ 2-1 win at Hartlepool two seasons ago and the substitute nearly struck another killer blow after coming on for Wade. Good link-up play with Maguire saw the former Blackpool winger strike from the edge of the box, but his looping effort couldn’t find the back of the net.
Blyth were not to be denied though and, in the last minute of normal time, Maguire sealed Spartans’ spot in the Emirated FA Cup second qualifying round with a routine finish.
A great sweeping move saw Richardson play in Maguire one-on-one. With Malkowski advancing out of his goal, Maguire kept his composure to slot the ball past the helpless goalkeeper.
Tom Wade’s men will be delighted to get past Frickley without the need of a replay – as it now gives them a full week to get ready for the visit of third-bottom Sutton Coldfield next Saturday in the Evo-Stik Premier League.
Blyth Spartans: McHugh, Cartwright, Bell, Caines, Hutchinson, Turnbull, Pattison (Buddle 86), Wade (Rivers 75), Maguire, Reid (Richardson 70), Dale.
Subs not used: Pell, Parker, Armstrong, Liddle.
Frickley Athletic: Malkowski, Parkinson, Grant, L Hinsley, Gooda, Waters, Valentine, Hanna, Curtis, C Hinsley (Williams 50), Akeroyd (Burton 81).
Subs not used: Guest, Parmer, Diggles, Slingsby.
Spartans Man of the Match: Sean Reid
Wade Admits FA Cup Substitution Mistakes Against Frickley
Blyth Spartans manager Tom Wade has held his hands up and admitted that his substitutions nearly cost his side safe progression in their Emirates FA Cup first qualifying round 3-1 win over Frickley Athletic.
A frustrated Spartans side finally broke the deadlock when Sean Reid slotted home in the 54th minute, before he doubled up with a similar finish four minutes later. The man of the match then made way for Jarrett Rivers with 20 minutes to go, just after he missed out on the chance to claim his hat-trick.
Defensive midfielder Matthew Wade was then withdrawn for Michael Richardson five minutes later and the Blyth boss believes that these two decisions allowed the Evo-Stik Premier League’s bottom club to haul themselves back into the tie – as they were able to halve the deficit soon after to set up a nervy last few minutes, before Daniel Maguire sealed the win just before the whistle.
Wade admitted: “We hung on a bit at the end and we shouldn’t have, but that was my fault because I made the wrong substitutions. I’ve learnt a lesson there.
“I took Reidy and Wadey off and I should have kept them both on, but I thought the game was finished. So, I’ve learnt a lesson.”
Despite owning up to an error in judgement on a frustrating afternoon at Croft Park, Wade was still able to celebrate a “great win” and thinks his side could have been out of sight well before Athletic threatened to mount a late comeback.
He added: “We played good football at times. They played five at the back and one in midfield, but we could have been 6-0 up at the break easily.
“We missed some great chances and didn’t play as well as we know we can, but that’s because we were played against such a packed defence and there was nothing we could do about it.
“We’re still miles away from where we need to be, but it’s a great win.
“As long as you’re creating chances, then you don’t have to worry as much. I thought their goalkeeper was man of the match by a long way.
“It’s crucial that you don’t get frustrated, but I felt that I was getting frustrated and the crowd was getting frustrated. I think that was purely just down to the fact that we were unable to score.
“We have to understand that teams will not come here to try and win a game. They’ll try to nullify us, pack the defence, disrupt our game and get one on the break.
“We have to be a bit more streetwise than that. Second half, we played with a lot more ease and we should have scored a hatful once again.
“We’ve got to start seeing games out though. We played some great stuff, but we’ve got to finish teams off.”
Reid had been named the Port of Blyth Player of the Month for August just prior to Saturday’s game and he showed that he is ready for anyone coming to wrestle the trophy out of his grasp for this month by netting his fourth and fifth goals of the season in similar circumstances.
However, Wade was delighted with the build-up play that led to both goals – as he praised both Stephen Turnbull and captain Robert Dale for their fantastic assists for the opening two goals.
Wade said: “The first and second goals were probably mirror images of each other. We cut them open at will in the second half and it was two great crosses in.
“Every time Robbie had the ball in the second half, he went past their right-back like he wasn’t even there. He didn’t manage to do that in the first half, but he left him for dead throughout the second half.
“They were two great finishes from Reidy as well. He’s also had a good chance to get his hat-trick with a header just over the bar before he was taken off, so he’s unlucky not to have finished off with the match ball.”
Blyth endured a testing time in front of goal – as they were continuously denied by in-form former Poland international goalkeeper Sebastian Malkowski. Although, Wade believes his side should have been awarded two penalties before Reid finally found a way past the Frickley stopper.
Wade explained: “They were both penalties. I was astounded that she didn’t give the one on Maguire, in fact I was stunned.
“Wadey’s had a shot and, fair enough, the lad’s only a couple of yards away. However, he’s saved it with two hands. As I say, I was astounded that they weren’t given, but sometimes you get them and sometimes you don’t.”
Their 3-1 win means that Spartans avoided a tricky midweek replay at Frickley, giving them a full week to prepare for the Evo-Stik Premier League visit of Sutton Coldfield this Saturday.
When asked just how important it was to avoid a replay, Wade replied: “It’s big, because we’ll get the lads on the pitch Tuesday and Thursday and work on our shape and other things that we need to take a look at.
“We’ve got a really good side, a really squad even. I wrote down the seven substitutes for the game and any one of them could have played – in addition to Alex Nicholson and Peter Jeffries, who weren’t available for the game.
“Out of that seven, we could have started any of them and not weakened the side. We’ve never had that since I’ve been at Blyth.
“So, we’ll do some work on the pitch, work on the fitness for the lads who haven’t been getting games and make sure we get ourselves ready for Saturday.
While they successfully avoided a second FA Cup fixture inside four days, Wade was quick to assure supporters that the club is taking the competition seriously again this season – as Spartans want to repay their supporters for their fantastic following with another illustrious cup run.
Wade said: “The FA Cup is important to even club – especially Blyth, given our history in the competition. It puts money in the coffers as well so, the further we go in the FA Cup, the more it benefits the club.
“The supporters deserve it and there was a great crowd in on Saturday, considering it was only the first qualifying round. They deserve another home draw, so I hope we get one.
“It’s an extra game, but I say bring them on. We’d rather play more games than just train so, if we can get a few more FA Cup games fitted in, we’d be delighted to go on another cup run.”