BY Liam O’Brien
In association with:
ALAN McLEAN FCMA CGMA
Chartered Management Accountant
FA Trophy Third Qualifying Round
Saturday November 23rd 2019
Blyth Spartans 1-1 Alfreton Town
A late equaliser from Harvey Grice meant Blyth Spartans had to settle for a replay on Tuesday for a chance to be in the next round of the FA Trophy.
Spartans opened the scoring in the 27th minute when Rhys Evans whipped in a cross through a crowded box and straight to the feet of Michael Sweet to power home into the bottom corner of the net.
And Alfreton left it late to force a Third Qualifying Round replay as Amari Morgan-Smith and debutant Zach Hemming both challenged for the ball with Hemming punching it away but only as far as Harvey Grice who chipped it over the keeper and into the net.
Lee Clark handed Hemming his first start in between the sticks after signing on loan from Middlesbrough until the end of the season.
Alfreton thought they’d scored in the eighth minute when Declan Bacon put the ball in the back of the Spartans net but it was ruled offside.
Ten minutes later, Blyth were furious. Michael Sweet and Robbie Dale were both through on goal, only for the referee to bring back the play for an earlier foul on Callum Roberts.
Roberts came close in the 23rd minute, when he came from out wide on the left to cut inside and have a strike at goal that went just over the bar.
Spartans were furious again in the 26th minute, when Ryan Qualter was only given a yellow card for a horrendous late tackle on Roberts.
However, Blyth rolled up their sleeves and opened the scoring from the resulting free-kick.
It was worked to Rhys Evans outwide. His cross found its way to Sweet, who took one touch before lacing the ball into the bottom corner to give Spartans the lead.
Alfreton only real chance of the half followed on 42 minutes. Declan Bacon getting the Lewis Ritson before losing his footing when trying to round Hemming.
Robbie Dale nearly doubled Blyth’s lead in the 44th minute – cutting inside on the left and seeing his curling effort hit the outside of the far post.
Spartans got the first shot of the second half with substitute Damen Mullen had an audacious strike from 25 yards out that went well over the bar.
Blyth came close to doubling their lead in the 63rd minute when a brilliant move sent Jack Hunter clear down the right side to whip in a cross which Dale in space but his shot went over the ball.
Alfreton got a chance in the 67th minute when Thacker whipped a cross for the head of Morgan-Smith but he couldn’t direct his header towards the Spartans goal.
Dale got another chance to double Blyth’s lead in the 75th minute, this time Roberts whipped in a cross for Dale but his scuffed shot was blocked by a defender.
In the 80th minute, Mullen had another effort from range but this shot was a lot close, going just narrowly wide of the near post. A few seconds later, Lewis Hawkins sent a great cross that narrowly missed the head of Roberts.
In the 82nd minute, Alfreton got their equaliser when a long ball was sent up the pitch towards Morgan-Smith, who challenged the charging Hemming for the ball. Hemming managed to punch it away but only as far as Harvey Grice who chipped it over Hemming to equalise.
Spartans: Hemming, Evans, Callaghan, Scott (Mullen, 48), Ritson, Devitt, Hawkins (McGlade, 85), Hunter, Sweet, Roberts, Dale. Subs not used: Hutchinson, McKeown, Harker.
Goal: Sweet (27)
Alfreton Town: Atkinson, Clackstone, Thacker, Clarke, Smith, Qualter, Killock, Branson, Bacon (Blake, 65), Morgan-Smith, East (Grice, 45). Subs not used: Andrew, Bennett, Hinchley
Booking: Bacon (20) Qualter 26) Thacker 35) Blake (72) Branson (88)
Goal: Grice (82)
Referee: John Matthew