By Stuart Dick
In association with:
ALAN McLEAN FCMA CGMA
Chartered Management Accountant
National League North
Saturday, February 23, 2019
Blyth Spartans 3-3 Kidderminster Harriers
Blyth Spartans overcame an 88th minute 3-1 deficit – and the sending off of their goalkeeper Peter Jameson – to secure a point against Kidderminster Harriers.
Nathan Buddle’s 92nd minute strike levelled a frantic game of football four minutes after Dan Maguire had given Blyth a lifeline.
Jameson’s 20th minute red card – and subsequent converted penalty by Joe Ironside – turned the tide after Fraser Horsfall had levelled Maguire’s opener.
Ed Williams 71st minute goal had seemed to put the game to bed before a frenetic final 15 minutes ensued to earn Spartans a point.
Much like last week, Alun Armstrong’s side started quickly and took the lead after just 45 seconds.
Kieran Green’s strike from the edge of the area deflected off Maguire on the penalty spot – wrong-footing Brandon Hall on what was to be a memorable afternoon at Croft Park.
The visitors replied within five minutes, Nick Clayton-Phillips delightful left-footed cross headed elegantly home by Harriers captain Horsfall.
Referee Paul Brown became to centre of attention in the 20th minute when he awarded a penalty and sent off Spartans’ goalkeeper Jameson
Jameson and Buddle both misjudged a through ball, allowing Ironside into the area before he was brought to the ground.
Brown took his time before showing the red card, the official deciding that the Blyth stopper had not made a genuine attempt to play the ball and it was a goalscoring opportunity – although Buddle was in position to cover.
This meant Spartans’ legend Robert Dale took his place between the sticks, but Ironside sent the Blyth forward the wrong way to give Harriers the lead.
Lesser sides may have crumbled under such circumstances, but Armstrong’s side is made of sterner stuff. A long ball from Dale on 28 minutes eventually found Maguire on the edge of the area who struck a rasping half volley straight at Hall.
The visitors, despite their man advantage, took aim from outside the area on a number of occasions, but failed to test Blyth’s makeshift goalkeeper.
In the 33rd minute Spartans again forced Hall into a vital stop. This time it was the creativity of Jamie Holmes who lofted a ball into the area and onto the head of Green – Hall rising to the occasion to tip the ball out of harm’s way.
In what can only be described as a laughable decision, the assistant referee awarded Harriers an offside from a corner kick. Once the referee realised the mistake, he awarded a drop-ball – which was duly kicked out for a throw-in by Kidderminster.
Maguire was causing all sorts of problems for the visitors and almost levelled seven minute before the break. His acrobatic overhead kick landed just over the crossbar – even if there was a suspicion of offside.
Moments before the interval Dale made a save any goalkeeper would have been proud of. Clayton-Phillips right-wing corner was met well by Horsfall – Dale palming the ball of the line to keep Spartans arrears at just one.
Kidderminster started the second half strongly as they looked to put the game to bed. Substitute Billy Daniels and Ed Williams hitting pot-shots that failed to trouble Dale.
Dale was back in the firing line on the hour mark when Williams broke free of the back line at hit a rising effort that the Spartans’ all-time appearance record holder tipped over the bar.
Williams added a third 19 minutes from time, substitute Daniels cross falling to Williams who bobbled the ball home from 12 yards out after a sublime move.
Alun Armstrong then introduced Connor Oliver and Adam Wrightson as his side upped the ante in search of a route back into the game.
But it was the combination of Holmes and Maguire who almost reduced the deficit, the former’s low cross narrowly evading the outstretched boot of the latter.
Spartans did, however, pull a goal back in the 88th minute. Alex Nicholson found himself in goalscoring position but selflessly backheeled the ball into the path of Maguire who took a touch before dispatching the ball with disdain into the top right hand corner.
A dramatic late comeback was completed two minutes into injury time when the ball fell to the unlikely source of Buddle who calmly slid the ball home to send the 705 strong Green Army wild.
The referee will be the centre of attention for his 20th minute decision, but Spartans showed their fight and passion to pick up a vital point.
We now travel to Chester on Tuesday Evening in another crucial away game in the fight for playoff football.
Blyth Spartans | Jameson; Nicholson, Buddle, Laing, Watson; Green (Oliver), Mullen (Reid); Holmes (Wrightson), Rivers, Dale; Maguire.
Unused | Horner, Fewster
Kidddermister Harriers | Hall; Austin, Horsfall, Johnson, Taylor; Butterfield, Penn; Clayton-Phillips (Daniels), Chambers (Richards); Williams (Truslove); Ironside.
Unused | Higginson, Heaton
Referee | Paul Brown
Attendance | 705
Spartans Man of the Match | Kieran Green