Report | AFC Fylde 0-3 Blyth Spartans | National League North | 22/23

National League North

Tuesday 28th March 2023


By Jack Bramley

Goals from Cedric Main, Jordan Hickey and Troy Chiabi helped Spartans to shock 3-0 win away to league leaders AFC Fylde, and boosted Blyth’s survival hopes.

On a cold, wet, Tuesday night in Wesham, National League North leaders AFC Fylde hosted a Blyth Spartans side, who themselves were in a relegation dogfight. One point would secure a playoff place for Fylde, but both sides were poised for a fight for all three.

Fylde started the game the strongest and had the majority of the possession in the opening minutes, flashing the ball across the Spartans box a couple of times. However, it was Blyth who opened the scoring on six minutes. With Main causing problems with his pressing on the edge of the Fylde box, pushing the Coasters back as they tried to play out from the back, he stole the ball from the central defender and played in Chiabi, who then laid the ball across the 6-yard box for Main to tap in.

Fylde continued controlling possession and piling the pressure onto Blyth’s box, but Spartans legion at the back held strong throughout, forcing the hosts to resort to flashing crosses into the box and long range efforts which Mitchell kept at bay.

Aside from the goal, the best chance of the first half fell to Blyth in the 24th minute. Deverdics collected the ball on the halfway line and made a driving run through the midfield, and chipped the ball through to Main, who scuffed his lines when through one on one with the keeper.

Fylde’s biggest chance came a few minutes later)when Conlon’s cross found its way to Rowley on the edge of the 6 yard box, but he couldn’t capitalise, firing high and wide of the Blyth goal.

There was an extended and frantic end to the first half due to a head injury to Fylde skipper, Danny Philliskirk, which saw a desperate Fylde pushing Blyth deeper into their own box. But other than a flashing cross into the area, Fylde couldn’t quite get their attack to click. A frustrated Malone received a yellow in injury time for pulling down Main, a challenge which summarised the feelings of the Fylde players.

The Coasters got us underway for the second half and started much like they ended the first. Within the first five minutes they had a massive opportunity to equal the scoring. Toby Lees brought down Cybulski on the edge of the Blyth box, Nick Haughton taking the free-kick hammered it straight into the Blyth wall, the ball fell back to him and he thundered it towards the top right corner of Mitchell’s goal, fortunately it went narrowly over.

A few minutes later, Conlon, from 30 yards out fired a rocket at the Spartans net, missing wide to the left. Before Haughton saw a shot saved brilliantly by a commanding Alex Mitchell.

Blyth’s first changes of the game came in the 62nd minute when Elsdon and an injured Richardson were replaced by Sunderland loanee Michael Spellman and the latest centurion of the club, Rhys Evans.

In a period of three minutes, former Darlington man, Luke Charman missed two clear cut opportunities to square the game up. In the 70th minute he headed an excellent cross over the bar, then he met a cutback six yards out – all he had to do was hit the target, but fortunately for Blyth he fired it over.

After a period of further sustained attack from Fylde, Spartans started to click on the break and looked dangerous in an action-packed final 10 minutes. It started with Chiabi receiving a cross field ball from Deverdics, calmly manipulating Emeka Obi into a foul and getting the Fylde defenderi into the officials book. The set piece came to nothing, but led to a period of Spartans pressure, and kicked them into a fresh gear against a tiring Fylde defence.

Moments later, Chiabi was brought down in the box, but penalty appeals fell on deaf ears, with Spartans only awarded a corner. Although that was almost enough, as a towering Spellman won the header but unfortunately couldn’t get the ball to go either side of the experienced Chris Neal in the Fylde goal.

Thankfully Blyth were not made to pay for their missed chances and instead punished Fylde for theirs. A Blyth freekick found Spellman free on the right wing with the box at his mercy, he cut inside, with a deflection eventually finding its way to Jordan Hickey who mercilessly fired Blyth further into the lead to kill any hopes Fylde had of getting the points.

Fylde knew that if they are to get something out of this game then they needed to throw everything forward. In the 88th minute the crowd were on their feet as Haughton broke into the Blyth area and went down. Fortunately for Blyth, the referee decided that Haughton had dived, and – having already been booked earlier for a late tackle on Richardson – meant he received a second yellow card and was sent for a slightly early shower.

Because of a small scuffle after the red card, the referee added six minutes to the end of the game, which allowed Chiabi to seal the game. From a goal kick, JJ O’Donnell received the ball and played a precise ball over the top of Obi for Chiabi to race onto, and into the Fylde box, he fired a low and precise shot into the far right corner, cementing (a memorable) three points for Blyth.

AFC Fylde – Neal, Obi, Rowley, Philliskirk, Haughton, Conlan, Cybulski, Pike (Barrett), Malone (Delfouneso), Davis, Bird (Charman)

Unused Subs – Whitmore, Hatfield

Blyth Spartans – Mitchell, Richardson (Evans), Lees, Cousin-Dawson, Elsdon (Spellman), O’Donnell, Deverdics, Hickey, McGowan, Main (Round), Chiabi

Unused Subs – Dopson

Goals – Main 6’, Hickey 88’, Chiabi 90’+4

Attendance – 1,011

Posted by Jack Bramley