By Jordan Cronin
In association with:
ALAN McLEAN FCMA CGMA
Chartered Management Accountant
National League North
Tuesday, January 28, 2020
AFC TELFORD UNITED 4-2 BLYTH SPARTANS
A poor first-half performance proved costly as Blyth Spartans slipped to a 4-2 defeat in the long-distance midweek trip to AFC Telford United.
Shrewsbury Town loanee Ryan Barnett was the star of the show in the first-half as The Bucks raced into a three-goal lead following strikes from Aaron Williams, Barnett himself and an own goal from Damen Mullen.
Indeed, it was three very fortunate goals for the hosts but it left Spartans with a mountain to climb after the break at the New Bucks Head.
But Lee Clark’s side did do themselves some justice in the second 45 minutes as Kris Thackray and a Williams own goal reduced the arrears either side of Marcus Dinanga’s fourth for Telford.
The former Birmingham City manager named one change from the weekend defeat to league leaders King’s Lynn Town with Damen Mullen replacing Lewis Hawkins in the starting 11.
Having travelled around 230 miles, you wouldn’t have mistaken Spartans for a slow start, however in truth, Clark’s men got nowhere near their hosts in the first interval.
Telford first threatened after seven minutes when Brendan Daniels sent a free-kick delivery towards Shane Sutton but the Bucks captain could only head over the crossbar.
With the home side dictating the possession, Blyth launched a counter-attack from a Telford corner. Jack Lambert’s shot was charged down before Robbie Dale’s dangerous cross with frantically dealt with.
But that was as good as it got for Blyth as Telford raced into a three-goal advantage. And while it was deserved on the balance of play, it was three horrible and unfortunate goals to concede.
Ellis Deeney’s shot was heading yards off target only for the ball to be deflected into the path of Williams, who calmly slotted past Zach Hemming.
Barnett was causing Spartans all sorts of trouble down the right-wing and he swiftly doubled Telford’s lead with a dubious cross-come-shot.
The winger got the better of Scott Wilson and hung a cross up in the air. His celebration said it all as it floated over Hemming and into the top corner.
And it was from the same side that Telford made it 3-0. Mullen knew nothing about it as Barnett’s cross powered off the midfielder and into the net.
However, for all of Telford’s dominance, Blyth squandered a chance to pull one back on the brink of the interval – the unmarked Ben Harmison heading over Dale’s corner from close-range.
To Blyth’s credit, they came racing out the blocks after the break. Mark Waddington was the first denied at the near post while Jack Hunter flicked a header into the side netting.
Hunter was soon presented with another opportunity and he should have scored. Jack Lambert and Dale combined – the latter picking out the former Gateshead man and he missed from six yards.
It’d be Thackray who finally made Blyth’s early second-half chances count. A melee in the penalty area allowed Harmison to hold the ball up and lay off the defender, who made no mistake from 12 yards.
The major disappointment is that the 3-1 scoreline lasted just three minutes. Substitute Dinanga on hand to poke home the rebound after Sutton was denied by the crossbar.
Blyth hit back, though, in a chaotic final quarter of an hour, as a deflected shot smashed off Williams and into the net to breach Matthew Yates for a second time.
Clark’s men huffed and puffed from then on but unfortunately, it was too little, too late in what a much-improved second-half – something to take into Saturday’s home game with Boston United.
A heavy defeat to Gloucester City on an emotional evening at Alfreton Town means Spartans remain three points from National League North safety.
Telford: Yates, Birch, White, Deeney, Sutton, Lilly, Barnett (Royle, 90+2), Walker (McQuilkin, 74), Stenson (Dinanga, 63), Williams, Daniels. Subs not used: Cowans, Knights.
Goals: Williams (25), Barnett, (32), Mullen (OG, 36), Dinanga (69)
Blyth: Hemming, Evans (Devitt, 74), Wilson, Hunter, Sanders, Thackray, Lambert, Mullen (Hawkins, 62), Harmison, Waddington, Dale. Subs not used: Sweet, Summerly, Wrightson.
Goals: Thackray (66), Willams (OG, 76),
Referee: Richard Aspinall