In association with:
Chartered Management Accountant
Vanarama National League North
Saturday, October 25th 2021
BRADFORD (PARK AVENUE) 2-1 BLYTH SPARTANS
Blyth Spartans suffered their fourth consecutive National League North defeat after surrendering a 1-0 lead at Bradford Park Avenue.
JJ O’Donnell handed Spartans a half-time lead – his sixth of the campaign – however a goal from Luca Havern and a wonderstrike Luke Rawson flipped the game on the head.
There was controversy in injury time when Robbie Dale’s low cross was directed goalwards. The Blyth players were adamant the ball had crossed the lead but the linesman was unmoved by the protests.
Michael Nelson named two changes from the defeat at home to Boston United. Sean Reid and Robbie Dale came in for Jordan Hickey and Dom Tear.
The visitors started brightly without creating a great deal as Robbie Dale saw an effort blocked, while O’Donnell struck off target from the left-hand side of the area.
Alex Mitchell made his first save of the evening on 22 minutes to deny Oliver Arblaster and from then on, Bradford PA grew in confidence.
After Francis Akeel aimed high and wide, the woodwork soon denied the hosts when Mitch Lund powered Mark Ross’ cross goalwards.
Akeel then raced in behind the Blyth defence and with just Mitchell to beat, he dragged his shot past the far post from an angle.
That was a wake-up call for Nelson’s side, and they began to test Jonny Saltmer in the Bradford PA goal.
That said, Saltmer was left rooted to the spot when Dale’s free-kick from 25 yards cannoned off the crossbar.
Connor Thomson, who played in a front two with Dan Maguire, twice in succession caused problems as he drifted into the wide areas.
His effort from the left forced a diving save from Saltmer. Then, from the right, his shot went just wide of the far post.
Spartans made their pressure count when they took the lead on 44 minutes. Maguire did superbly in the build-up to take the ball around Saltmer, set up O’Donnell, who fired home into an empty net.
Dale twice threatened to extend the lead, the closest being a volley towards the near post that was held by Saltmer.
The Blyth defence was caught napping on the brink of half-time. Akeel raced in behind again but his tame attempt allowed Mitchell to save with ease.
At the start of the second-half, Dylan Mottley-Henry was left unmarked in the box. Mitchell looked beaten as his header rolled wide.
Blyth continued to press the Bradford PA players. Maguire did that successfully, sending Thomson in behind but Saltmer was equal to the shot at the near post.
The home side equalised on 66 minutes. Arblaster played a one-two and floated the ball over to Havern at the back post, who headed home emphatically from a ridiculous angle.
Spartans had chances to go back in front. A driven cross by Thomson was backheeled goalwards by Maguire, forcing Saltmer into a reflex save.
Reid then rose highest to Nicky Deverdics’ in-swinging corner but could only head over. Soon, at the other end, Bradford PA got their noses in front.
It was an unbelievable strike by substitute Rawson, whose right-footed shot rocketed into the top left corner. Isaac Marriott then tried the spectacular himself as Mitchell backtracked to tip the half-volley over the crossbar.
Nelson’s men pushed for an equaliser and were twice denied in injury. Saltmer beat away Michael Liddle’s near-post shot before the controversy arrived.
Dale’s low cross was directed towards goal and the Spartans players protested that the ball had crossed the line, but the linesman was unmoved.
Next up for Blyth is a trip to York City on Saturday.
Bradford PA: Saltmer, Ross, Lund, Marriott, Havern, Arblaster (ODunston, 90+), Mottley-Henry (Nowakowski, 85), Richman, Akeel (Rawson, 63), Dockerty, Clee. Subs not used: Hall, Gomis.
Goals: Havern 66, Rawson 75.
Blyth Spartans: Mitchell, Evans, Lees, Watson, Liddle, Dale, Deverdics, Reid (McNall, 87), O’Donnell, Thomson, Maguire (McKeown, 78). Subs not used: Hickey, Painter, Milburn.
Goals: O’Donnell 44.
Referee: Richard Holmes