By Stephen Burton
In association with:
ALAN McLEAN FCMA CGMA
Chartered Management Accountant
Vanarama National League North
Saturday, November 1st 2022
BLYTH SPARTANS 2-2 LEAMINGTON
A brace from Nicky Deverdics wasn’t quite enough for Spartans as a last-gasp equaliser landed Leamington a share of the points at Croft Park.
Leamington skipper Jack Edwards put the visitors ahead 10 minutes in before Deverdics levelled from the spot on 29 minutes, before netting a spectacular free-kick eight minutes before full-time.
But Spartans hearts were broken as with almost the last kick of the game as Edwards turned in a Leamington free-kick deep into injury time.
Spartans boss Graham Fenton made three changes from the side that lost against Kettering Town on Saturday, with Rhys Evans, Matty Cornish and Josh Scott coming into the starting line-up.
Blyth started brightly and forced the game’s first chance two minutes in as JJ O’Donnell’s low cross was met by the Cornish who fired wide.
Spartans kept Leamington pinned back but their promising start turned into a nightmare as they succumbed to another early goal from nothing.
A long ball forward was well intercepted by Alex Mitchell who raced out his goal but he didn’t get any height on his clearance and it was picked up by Edwards, who lobbed it over the back-tracking keeper.
The away side seemed happy to hold on to what they have, sitting deep and soaking pressure as Spartans bossed possession, however they struggled to create any real chances.
Blyth got their breakthrough just before the half-hour mark as a Deverdics corner struck the arm of a Leamington defender, with the former Newcastle United midfielder making no mistake from the resultant penalty.
Spartans were visibly boosted by the goal and could’ve went ahead minutes later, as a brilliant deep cross from Deverdics found O’Donnell but the Blyth vice-captain couldn’t keep his header down.
The hosts continued to dominate but Leamington did look threatening on the counter and from set pieces. One deep free-kick was met by the head of James Mace and was brilliantly tipped over by Mitchell.
After the break the Spartans stopper was called into action again as the ball broke to Tom Hewlett in the box, but Mitchell produced a fine stop low to his right to deny the Leamington striker.
Otherwise the half continued in much the same pattern as the first with Blyth seeing plenty of the ball but struggling to break down a stubborn defence.
O’Donnell almost got a sight of goal a few yards out when the ball came across, but was just couldn’t quite get a telling touch on the ball to guide it in, and it was gathered by Callum Hawkins.
Leamington almost went ahead with just over 15 minutes left when the ball bounced invitingly for Edwards who unleashed a fierce volley that beat Mitchell and rattled the crossbar.
The game became scrappy and needed a moment of quality, and eight minutes from time Deverdics provided it as he whipped a 25-yard free-kick into the top corner to give Spartans the lead.
It was backs against the wall in the final minutes as Blyth looked to have held on, but a last-minute free-kick cost them dear as Edwards sneaked in at the back post to snatch a late leveller.
Blyth Spartans | Mitchell, Evans, Lees, Richardson, Hickey, O’Donnell © (Joisce 67’), Elsdon, Deverdics, Main, Cornish, Scott (McKeown 60’) Subs not used | Dopson
Goals | Deverdics 29’, 82’
Leamington | Hawkins, Meredith, Hall, Maye (Clarke 77’), Mace, Lane, Usher-Shipway (Cook 28’), Walker, Hewlett (Reid 69’), Edwards ©, Kelly-Evans Subs not used | Clarke, Reid, Streete, English
Goals | Edwards 10’, 90’+4
Referee | Darius Bradley
Attendance | 574