By Stephen Burton
In association with:
ALAN McLEAN FCMA CGMA
Chartered Management Accountant
Vanarama National League North
Saturday, February 26th 2022
BLYTH SPARTANS 0-2 AFC FYLDE
Blyth Spartans fell to their third home defeat in a row as AFC Fylde ran out 2-0 winners at Croft Park.
Fylde took the lead through a diving header from Mark Cullen on 16 minutes, before Nick Houghton sealed the points for Fylde with a penalty three minutes from time.
Terry Mitchell named two changes to the side that stunned Southport in midweek, including Alex Curran coming in to replace the injured Alex Mitchell in goal, and Jordan Hickey coming in to replace Sean Reid.
Despite being in poor form of late it was Fylde who showed their quality in the early stages as they enjoyed plenty of possession, with Emeka Obi threatening first with a header straight into the arms of Curran.
As the game approached the quarter hour Ben Tollitt’s shot fizzed past the post before Fylde made their dominance count through Cullen’s bullet header from an excellent cross from Dan Pike.
Spartans tried to mount a response, an just after 20 minutes JJ O’Donnell skewed a great chance wide of the post after a well-worked corner routine.
The chance seemed to give Blyth confidence as they stemmed Fylde’s dominance and began to enjoy some possession, however the away side were quick to press Spartans when they played from the back.
The first-half continued with few chances from either side, although Pike almost doubled Fylde’s lead in the dying moments of the half.
Blyth started well in the second-half as JJ O’Donnell went close with a back post header, after excellent work on the wing from makeshift left-back Karl Byrne.
Curran was called into action soon after as he did well to save a low drive from Cullen, before Spartans had their chance of the game so far.
O’Donnell’s in swinging cross from the right somehow evaded everyone and bobbled off the far post before Dan Maguire was denied on the rebound by a fine stop from Chris Neal.
The hosts certainly looked the most dangerous, with Patrick Almond heading over, however Fylde remained a threat on the break, firing a couple of dangerous crosses that were well dealt with by Curran.
Almond, filling in at right-back, was at the centre of things again just after the hour, as he burst forward and fired a dangerous cross that was parried on the bar by Neal.
Byrne fired a speculative 30 yarder narrowly over as Blyth pushed hard for an equaliser, however Fylde were still dangerous with Curran having to be at full stretch to turn Nathan Shaw’s strike past the post.
Blyth just couldn’t find the breakthrough, and were made to pay after Toby Lees pulled down Cullen in the box after being caught on the break.
Lees saw red, and Houghton converted the spot-kick to seal the win for the visitors.
Blyth Spartans | Curran, Almond, Lees, Buddle, Byrne, O’Donnell, Hickey, Deverdics, McKeown (Djalo 80’), McNall (Barlow 68’), Maguire (Dale 68’) Subs not used | Reid, Painter
AFC Fylde | Neal, Obi, Tollitt, Philliskirk ©, Haughton (Robinson 88’), Cullen (Joyce 89’), Evans, Perkins, Pike, Davis, Slew (Shaw 65’) Subs not used | Conlan, Stott
Goals | Cullen 16’, Houghton 87’
Referee | James Bancroft
Attendance | 786