By Stephen Burton
In association with:
ALAN McLEAN FCMA CGMA
Chartered Management Accountant
National League North
11th January 2020
Blyth Spartans 2-1 Curzon Ashton
Robbie Dale bagged a brace as Spartans came from behind to earn a massive three points to go within a point of safety at a windswept Croft Park.
The visitors went ahead through Connor Dimaio as he fired low past Zach Hemming just after the hour mark, before Dale’s looping free-kick pulled Spartans level four minutes later.
The Spartans captain then completed the come back on 73 minutes to ensure the hosts claimed a vital three points.
Spartans boss Lee Clark made one change from the midweek defeat to Altrincham, with Mark Waddington replacing Damen Mullen to make his first start for the club, in what was a huge match for Spartans who were four points behind Curzon – and safety – in the National League North.
And Spartans almost got off to the perfect start three minutes in, as the midfielder surged forward and played in Cal Roberts, whose stunning curling effort hit the bar with Cameron Mason left stranded.
But despite a promising start, the game became scrappy with both sides seeming to struggle with the windy conditions – until Roberts produced another moment of magic midway through the first half.
Crowded out on the right touchline, the winger produced a tremendous backheel to release Rhys Evans who ran clear into the area, Robbie Dale met the fullback’s low cross but was denied by a superb reaction save from Mason.
Blyth looked the better of the sides but struggled to create anything of note and the first-half looked to be petering out only for Curzon to waste two golden opportunities to take the lead a minute before the interval.
Olatunde Bayode found himself free in the area but his attempt badly caught the wind and failed to go out of play, from the subsequent cross Robert Evans could only head the ball down across goal when he should have hit the target, then Bayode popped up again but somehow hooked wide from a couple of yards.
It was a quiet opening to the second half, but then the match sprung into life on the hour as Spartans failed to clear a free-kick and the ball found its way to Dimaio, who wriggled free on the edge of the box and sent a low shot past Zach Hemming.
But the hosts responded well, and found themselves level just four minutes later in unusual circumstances. Dale lofted a free-kick into the area from mid-way into the Curzon half, originally looking overhit, the ball caught the wind and looped over the stranded Mason in the visitor’s goal.
Spartans by this point were well on top and could have went ahead just five minutes later as Dale fired wide from a promising position in the box.
However, the home side did not have to wait too much longer, as the Spartans captain then completed the turnaround just a couple of minutes later. After a well worked move on the right-hand side, Dale exchanged passes with Hawkins, and this time made no mistake as he slotted home.
The game reverted to being scrappy in the final 10 minutes with the visitors rarely looking like they would get back into the game, however, that almost changed in the 92nd minute, as Bayode wasted another golden chance by firing wide of Hemming’s goal.
Spartans saw out the final few moments and hung on for a huge win that sees them cut the gap to safety to just one point ahead of next weekend’s trip to Telford.
Blyth Spartans: Hemming, Evans, Wilson, Hunter, Sanders, Thackray, Waddington, Hawkins, Sweet (Wrightson 55’), Roberts, Dale © (Mullen 86’) . Unused subs. Devitt, Scott, McKeown
Goals: Dale (65’, 73’)
Curzon Ashton: Mason, Baillie (Merrill 86’), Askew, Wroe ©, Shaw, Ali, Evans, Calveley, Bayode, Dimaio, Sinclair (Scott 73’). Unused subs: Lovell, Sloan, McCann
Goals: Dimaio (61’)
Referee: Jonny Urwin