BY Liam O’Brien
In association with:
ALAN McLEAN FCMA CGMA
Chartered Management Accountant
Emirates FA Cup Second Qualifying Round
Saturday, September 18th 2021
BLYTH SPARTANS 1–1 FC UNITED OF MANCHESTER
Blyth Spartans will travel to Broadhurst Park on Tuesday evening for an FA Cup Second Round Qualifying Replay after drawing 1-1 with FC United of Manchester at Croft Park.
In truth, Michael Nelson’s side never really got going over the course of 90 minutes and were fortunate lead at half-time courtesy of JJ O’Donnell’s fourth goal of the season.
FC United enjoyed most of the possession and made their pressure count when Cedric Main equalized 15 minutes from time.
The visitors started the game strongly with Bradley Holmes dragging a shot wide of the far post. They then got another chance soon after when Toby Lees was required to block Regan Linney’s attempt.
Blyth’s first chance arrived on 16 minutes. A great passage of pyla saw Karl Byrne send Connor Thomson through down the right wing, whose cross was almost converted by O’Donnell.
Nicky Deverdics intercepted a pass from and laid it off to Lewis McNall. His shot was low towards the near post, forcing Lavercombe into a strong save.
A minute later, McNall was sent through on goal, found Thomson with a pull-back. Thomson struck at goal that was comfortably saved by Lavercombe.
With FC United on top, Spartans’ opener was perhaps against the run of play. Fantastic pace from Byrne allowed him to pick out McNall, he laid it off for O’Donnell, who took a touch before volleying home.
Spartans almost grabbed a quick second. McNall’s shot rolled towards Thomson. Any touch from the latter and it was 2-0.
FC United had a chance in stoppage time of the first half when Main found himself in space outside the box and decided to unleash a shot at goal but it was straight at Mitchell.
The visitors finished where they left off after the break – forcing Nelson in a tactical switch with Michael Liddle playing in central midfield after Jordan Hickey limped off.
Before leaving the field, Hickey did test Lavercombe from distance but saw his effort save.
For all FC United’s better play however, Spartans should have made it 2-0. O’Donnell found Thomson in behind. He went one-on-one with Lavercombe but the goalkeeper came out on top.
That miss proved costly.
In the 71st minute, Main found the ball at his feet after a series of blocked shots. His effort at goal was poorly scuffed and goes wide of the near post.
But Main wasn’t to be denied a second time and found the net eight minutes later. A good passage of play found Main in the box, who slotted the ball past Alex Mitchell.
Aiming to avoid a replay on Tuesday, Spartans had corner after corner in the closing stages – Sean Reid heading one over – but FC United held out and host Nelson’s side on Tuesday.
Blyth Spartans XI: Mitchell, Byrne, Lees, Reid, Watson, Hickey (McKeown, 68), Deverdics, O’Donnell ©, Dale, McNall (Liddle, 52), Thomson (Clark, 85). Subs not used: Evans, Curran.
Goals: O’Donnell (35)
FC United of Manchester XI: Lavercombe, Donohue (Rain, 76), Dodd, Jones, Baker, Morris, Sinclair-Smith (Ennis, 62), Potts ©, Holmes, Main, Linney (Waddecar, 68). Subs not used: Bennett, Smith, Chadwick, McDowell
Goals: Main (80)
Referee: Paul Cooper
Attendance: 1,169 (211 away)