BY Jordan Cronin
In association with:
ALAN McLEAN FCMA CGMA
Chartered Management Accountant
Vanarama National League North
Saturday, February 8, 2020
CHESTER 2-1 BLYTH SPARTANS
The 10 men of Blyth Spartans were not rewarded for their battling efforts after a 2-1 defeat at Chester in National League North.
Akwasi Asante’s 12th-minute goal proved the difference in an even first-half before debutant Shane Blaney killed Spatans’ momentum at the start of the second interval with his red card.
Lee Clark’s men remained in the game but were undone by a James Jones header from Joel Taylor’s corner.
But Blyth pushed to the end and can count themselves unlucky not to have left the 1885 Arena with at least a point following Olly Scott’s late strike.
It was a high intensity start at the 1885 Arena as Lee Clark introduced loan signings Macaulay Langstaff and Blaney to the starting 11.
Brad Jackson twice drilled efforts wide while Blyth were denied an opportunity on goal by Simon Grand as the Blues defender cut out Robbie Dale’s ball through to Langstaff.
And just as Zach Hemming did ever so well to keep out Asante’s header at the near post out, the Chester striker breached the Middlesbrough loanee, four minutes later.
George Glendon’s corner wasn’t dealt with with Asante firing past a sea of bodies and into the roof of Hemming’s net.
Clark’s men responded well. Lewis Hawkins’ in-swinging delivery was narrowly flicked wide by Dale.
Moments later, Langstaff then broke away from his man and advanced into the area but could only slice his attempt wide.
Blyth continued to give a good account of themselves but struggled to test Blues goalkeeper Russ Griffiths.
However, Hemming was also spared of efforts on his goal with Kris Thackray and Jack Sanders with some standout blocks from Matty Hughes and Asante.
A half-time teamtalk sparked a fast start from Spartans with Chester hanging on to their one-goal advantage.
Dale’s corner was floated towards Thackray and just as it looked to be nestling in the top corner, goalkeeper Russ Griffiths stuck an arm out to save.
Then, only the head of Kevin Roberts prevented Langstaff from heading home at the back post following Thackray’s delivery.
Spartans were well on top but were deterred after Blaney’s red card offence on Glendon.
It was an unfortunate moment for the Doncaster Rovers loanee, who slipped whilst heading into the challenge. The game momentarily threatened to boil over.
Blyth kept the hosts’ chances to a minimin. Sanders, an outstanding contender for match of the match, threw his body in front of absolutely everything.
But on the few occasions where Chester did break through, Hemming was on-hand as he dived at his near post to deny Glendon.
Unfortunately, a set piece opened up the Blyth defence. Taylor, whose corners caused problems throughout the afternoon, was met by the unmarked Jones.
It was a second goal from Chester that was a major disappointment in what was otherwise a solid second-half when they did deservedly get on the scoresheet.
A vicious delivery by Langstaff on 81 minutes was knocked goalwards by substitute Michael Sweet and after pandemonium in the penalty area, Scott directed the ball home.
Unfortunately, one last chance wasn’t to fall to Clark’s men and instead watched Hemming superbly deny Anthony Dudley from close-range in the dying stages.
Chester: Griffiths, K.Roberts, Taylor, Burton, Jones, Grand, Johnston (Stopforth, 90+5), Glendon, Asante, Hughes (Dudley, 75), Jackson (Waters, 90+3). Subs not used: G.Roberts, Ngwatala.
Goals: Asante (12), Jones (70)
Blyth: Hemming, Devitt, Blaney, Hunter (Evans, 57), Sanders, Thackray, Scott, Hawkins, Langstaff, Waddington, Dale (Sweet, 57). Subs not used: McKeown, Harmison, Wrightson.
Goal: Scott (81)
Blaney (red card 51)
Referee: Richard Holmes