National League North
Saturday 25th March 2023
BLYTH SPARTANS 0-2 CHESTER FC
By Anth Elliott
Blyth Spartans fell to a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Chester on Non-League Day, despite the goalkeeping heroics of Alex Mitchell.
Fresh from Wednesday’s Northumberland Senior Cup win, Spartans headed into today’s game against Chester in a positive mood.
Their opponents earned a 2-2 draw in their last outing against Scarborough and came into the game vying for promotion, sitting in third position in the National North table.
Blyth found themselves under some early pressure from the kick-off and Chester pressed high, forcing Spartans to sit deep.
Matty Elsdon was forced into a last-ditch block after Chester’s corner ball was cleared and the recycled ball was fired back towards goal by Matty Williams before Elsdon’s intervention knocked it out for a corner.
Chester piled on the pressure even further when Jordan Hickey was dispossessed just on the edge of the area, the ball was then crossed and cleared but ended up at the feet of oncoming Chester forward Kurt Willoughby who stung the palms of Mitchell who was able to steer the ball behind.
With 30 minutes on the clock Cedric Main looked to break forward weaving around three Chester players and was unlucky not to find Troy Chiabi who looked to be through on goal, Alex Kenyon was there to stop the clever play.
Mitchell made two fantastic saves two minutes apart, first a close-range reaction save from Williams and then a towering header from Charlie Caton which most of the ground assumed was goal bound -Mitchell proved otherwise.
Blyth’s best chance of the half came in the 34th minute from a ball whipped in from the right by Rhys Evans, which found captain Nicky Deverdics but his effort went just over the bar.
Chester broke the deadlock just before half time in a counterattack which saw Caton carry the ball from deep in his own half past the chasing Spartans defenders, he was then brought down in the area but the ball bobbled through to a waiting Declan Weeks who took the ball around Mitchell to put the visitors ahead.
The Seals were back at it after the break with three early opportunities, the first an effort which snuck past the post, the second produced yet another brilliant save from Mitchell who stretched to palm Lewis Earl’s close range header over the bar.
Their third effort saw a goal line clearance from Will McGowan after Kenyon’s header looked to have put Chester two up.
In the 55th minute Chester further increased their lead when Blyth were dispossessed deep in their own half, the ball was then played square to Ollie Heywood who blasted the ball past Mitchell.
Blyth looked to test the Chester keeper when Evans put a low cross into the near post, Main tried to get to the ball ahead of Harry Tyrer but the Chester stopper got there first.
Spartans continued to press and packed the penalty area, Main’s drive was played back to the edge of the box where Deverdics strike was deflected wide by the scrambling Chester defence.
Chester tested Mitchell once again when Weeks managed to turn past Elsdon and fire an effort goalwards, but the Spartans keeper was equal to it and held the ball well.
McGowan found space and played a lovely lofted through ball into Michael Spellman who controlled the ball well, but he hit the ball straight at the rushing Tyrer who saved easily.
Chester saw out the remaining minutes and left with a deserved three points as they continue their push for promotion to the National League.
Blyth Spartans AFC: Mitchell, Evans, Hickey, O’Donnell, Round, McGowan, Elsdon, Deverdics (C), Main, Chiabi, Cousin-Dawson. Subs: Liddle, Richardson, Dopson, (65) Spellman.
Chester FC: Tyrer, Weeks, Kenyon, Willoughby, Williams, Coates, Earl, Murray, Heywood, Caton, Whitehouse. Subs: Brown, (90+2) Dudley, (83) Thomas, (70) Lynch, Edwards.
Goalscorers: Declan Weeks (44), Ollie Heywoood (56)
Referee: Ben Tomlinson
Match Attendance: 863