By Stephen Burton
ALAN McLEAN FCMA CGMA
Chartered Management Accountant
Vanarama National League North
Saturday, November 6th 2021
BLYTH SPARTANS 0-2 LEAMINGTON
A wonderstrike either side of half-time was enough to consign Blyth Spartans to a seventh straight defeat at home to Leamington.
Devon Kelly-Evans fired home brilliant 25-yard strike four minutes before the break, before Joe Clarke struck from halfway, five minutes into the second-half.
Michael Nelson made four changes, including a start for Lewis McNall who replaced the injured Dan Maguire. The Spartans boss also switched to a back three in a bid to shore up a side that conceded four goals away to York City last weekend.
Leamington wasted no time in putting this new-look Blyth backline under pressure in the early stages, with Callum Gittings having the first effort of the game as he drilled a shot narrowly wide.
But from the quarter-hour mark Spartans grew into the game and started to cause Leamington problems with McNall particularly impressive.
A driving run from the former Newcastle striker led to Jordan Hickey firing a snapshot wide, before he then provided for JJ O’Donnell whose deflected effort was well held by Jake Weaver.
However despite Spartans’ improvement, the visitors continued to look dangerous on the break as Joe Parker’s fired straight at Alex Mitchell and Dan Turner saw a shot deflected wide.
In an end-to-end half it was Spartans who had the first clear-cut chance 25 minutes in, as Corey McKeown played in McNall whose powerful effort was tipped over by Weaver.
McNall again played his part 10 minutes later as his cross found the unmarked Dom Tear at the back-post, but the winger could only fire over.
Blyth continued to pour forward but continued to be denied by fantastic last-ditch defending, before being dealt a sucker-punch just before the break.
Out of nothing, the ball broke to Kelly-Evans who smashed an unstoppable 25-yard strike past Mitchell to give Leamington the lead.
Blyth almost hit back straight away as Michael Liddle found space in the box but the full-back miscued on his weaker foot and the ball bobbled harmlessly wide.
Spartans started the second half brightly, but once again Leamington struck out of nothing.
The ball was at the back with Mitchell who badly miskicked his clearance straight to Clarke. The midfielder took a touch and lobbed the Spartans keeper from halfway.
Again Blyth nearly hit back immediately as McNall struck his shot inches wide of the post after doing well to find some space in the box.
Things almost went bad to worse for Spartans as Leamington captain Jack Edwards powered a header narrowly over a couple of minutes later.
Nelson tried to inject new life into his side just after the hour mark as he brought on Robbie Dale and Connor Thomson.
In response the visitors were happy to sit and see the game out as Blyth struggled to break them down.
If anything it was Leamington who looked the more likely to score as substitute Kelsey Mooney fired at Mitchell from the edge of the box.
Spartans finally worked a chance in the 80th minute as the ball found its way to Michael Liddle out wide, his low cross found Thomson but Weaver was on hand to tip his shot wide.
That was as close as Blyth got as Leamington did their best to disrupt the game and see out the closing stages.
Next up for Blyth is an away trip to Kettering.
Blyth Spartans: Mitchell, Liddle, Buddle ©, Watson (Thomson 63’), Hickey (Painter 79’), O’Donnell, McNall, McKeown (Dale 57’), Deverdics, Lees, Tear Subs not used: Evans, Byrne
Leamington: Weaver, Meredith, Morely, Clarke, Morrison, Lane, Parker (Mooney 77’), Gittings (Willis 89’), Turner (Anderson 79’), Edwards ©, Kelly-Evans. Subs not used: Willis, Cook, Martin
Goals: Kelly-Evans (41’), Clarke (50’)
Referee: James Bancroft
Attendance | 635