Report | Chorley 0-1 Blyth Spartans | National League North | 21/22

By Craig Dobson

In association with:

ALAN McLEAN FCMA CGMA

Chartered Management Accountant

Vanarama National League North

Saturday, March 19th 2022

CHORLEY 0-1 BLYTH SPARTANS

A strike from Robbie Dale saw Blyth Spartans pull off a stunning upset at promotion-chasing Chorley, ending a four-game winless run in the process.

The talismanic attacker’s 50th-minute goal proved enough to see off the Magpies, who could not find a way past Spartans’ resolute back four at Victory Park.

Manager Terry Mitchell made three changes, bringing in Dan Maguire, Rhys Evans and skipper Nathan Buddle in place of Sean Reid, Karl Byrne and Jordan Watson respectively.

Spartans almost struck within the first ten minutes, with the returning Maguire central to the move. The visitors’ number nine chased onto a ball in behind, pulling a tantalising square ball across the six-yard box. It was met by the onrushing Angelo Capello, but the winger could not convert for his first Spartans goal, skewing wide from six yards out.

Moments later, Evans forced Matt Urwin into his first save of the afternoon, pushing a speculative cross-shot around the near post.

On a blustery day in the North West, the hosts looked to test the Blyth defence with lofted high balls into the final third. However, aside from Jon Ustabasi’s off-target shot in the 17th minute, Alex Mitchell was largely untroubled between the sticks. Chorley asserted greater control of possession as the half went on, but failed to muster any clear-cut chances.

Likewise, Blyth did not make the most of a number of corners, and Urwin did not have a save to make before the first half drew to a close. The hosts, fifth prior to the day’s action, came out with renewed vigour after the interval, the lively Billy Whitehouse rifling high and wide minutes after the restart.

However, any cause for optimism amongst the home support was soon extinguished by a devastating Spartans counter-attack. Toby Lees strode forward to intercept possession, breaking the lines and carrying the ball into dangerous territory. Corey McKeown then took over, turning back inside his marker. The ricochet fell kindly to Dale, who steadied himself before finishing beyond Urwin.

Andy Halls looped a header into Mitchell’s hands as Chorley looked to respond, but Blyth could have been two goals to the good with twenty-five minutes remaining. A tremendous reverse ball by Capello split the defence, but a slightly heavy touch from Maguire saw the one-on-one opportunity evaporate.

Chorley increasingly dominated possession and exerted pressure as they searched for a leveller, only to be stifled by resolute defending and poor decision-making in the final third. The partnership of Lees and Buddle proved unbeatable in the air throughout the encounter, with the former putting in a flawless performance at the heart of the back four.

Home fans thought their side was about to restore parity in the 80th minute when substitute Connor Hall was slipped in behind the defence. Hall, on the scoresheet in October’s reverse fixture, was expertly denied by Mitchell – the goalkeeper flying low to his left to palm the shot away – before Blyth’s defence dealt with the rebound.

The Magpies ramped up the pressure as the clock ran down. An inviting Whitehouse cross evaded all attackers at the back post, while Jacob Blyth saw a bobbling effort easily gathered by Mitchell.

With Chorley pouring men forward, space was opening up for Blyth to counter – and Corey McKeown almost took full advantage. The teenager burst forward in stoppage time, beating no fewer than three defenders with a sensational jinking run towards the area, only to sidefoot inches wide.

There was still time for one more Chorley attack before the close of play. Brad Holmes, another attacking substitute thrown on for the final fifteen minutes, let fly at goal from outside the box, but Mitchell was equal to it, pawing it behind for a corner.

The frustrated hosts could not make the most of the set piece or the final moments of possession thereafter. The final whistle was met with raucous cheers from the travelling supporters, appreciative of an effective counter-attacking showing and a flawless defensive performance.

Chorley | Unwin, Halls, Ustabasi (Holmes 76’), Leather ©, Baines, Tomlinson, Shenton (Hall 68’), Calveley, Whitehouse (Blyth 84’), Alli, Sampson  Subs not used | Blakeman, Spencer-McDermott  

Blyth Spartans | Mitchell, Evans (Byrne 78’), Almond, Buddle ©, Lees, Deverdics, O’Donnell, McKeown, Capello (Hickey 84’), Dale (Reid 68’), Maguire Subs not used | McNall, Barlow

Goal | Dale 50’

Referee | Dale Baines

Attendance |  1,250

Posted by Stephen Burton