Report | Spartans handed tough lesson in league opener at Guiseley

BY Jordan Cronin

In association with:

ALAN McLEAN FCMA CGMA

Chartered Management Accountant

National League North

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Ten-man Blyth Spartans were handed a tough lesson to begin their National League North campaign with a heavy defeat at Guiseley. 

Matthew Elsdon departed the field just after half-time following a second yellow, in a game where Michael Nelson’s men were already trailing 2-0. 

It had taken until just the second minute for the hosts to take the lead after Elsdon’s foul on Kaine Felix allowed Lebrun Mbeka to score from the penalty spot. 

Hamza Bencherif added a second just before the break before Felix and Mark Howarth piled the misery on Spartans’ 10 men. 

Nelson made two changes from the FA Cup win at Whitley Bay as Aaron Cunningham and Priestley Griffths replaced Alex Sakellaropoulos and Panos Katsamagkas. 

And it’s fair to say his side got off to the worst possible start as Elsdon got in a tangle with Felix to concede a penalty, 50 seconds in. 

Mbeka stepped up to direct his spot-kick past Brendan Pearson, prompting an utterly dominant opening first-half from the hosts. 

If there were any question marks over Blyth goalkeeper at Hillheads on Saturday, then he more than made up for it at Nethermoor Park.

Although he did have a nervy moment to deal with first when his clearance was charged down by Prince Ekpolo, which almost crept in before he managed to gather.

He had to be at his best to deny close range headers from Mbeka and Brad Nicholson, while he brilliantly parried Mark Howarth’s powerful shot, all inside the opening 15 minutes. 

Guiseley thought they had a second in the same period as Nicholson’s header from Howarth’s corner was claimed to have crossed the line, but the referee disagreed with the home side.

Pearson was kept busy and bailed his teammates out on two occasions in the space of a minute. 

Callum Guy was the first to be dispossessed in the midfield as Felix powered forward to shoot from outside the area. 

Griffiths was the next to fall to Guiseley pressure, only this time in his own penalty area as Pearson produced heroics to dive at the feet of Felix, just as it seemed he’d slide home. 

Unfortunately for Blyth, Pearson ultimately delayed the inevitable. On 41 minutes, Bencherif rose highest from Howarth’s free-kick delivery to double the Lions’ advantage. 

And just as Nelson regrouped the lads for half-time, hopes of a comeback were immediately squashed as Elsdon was red carded for a second booking after fouling Mbeka. 

Pearson picked up where he left off with a double save from Nicholson and Mbeka but could do nothing about Felix adding a third. 

A ball into the Blyth defence was controlled by Mbeka, who fed in Felix and he did enough to slide the ball under the on-rush Pearson. 

In truth, it took Blyth until the hour mark to register their first meaningful shot on goal as Olly Scott latched onto a loose ball in the box, but failed to test Lions keeper Brad Wade. 

Six minutes later, the hosts added a fourth. Haworth, Guiseley’s man of the match, drove forward from midfield before cutting onto his left foot to fire into the far corner. 

Give credit Blyth, they stuck at it in the final 20 minutes as Pearson was barely tested, only from long distance. 

Nelson’s men will look to bounce back when they host AFC Telford United at Croft Park on Saturday afternoon. 

Guiseley: Wade, Cantrill, Nicholson (Gillam, 71), Haworth, Bencherif, Cowan, Felix (Hall, 71), Ekpolo, Mbeka, Wafula (Ryan, 71), Johnson. Subs not used: Currie, Newell. 

Goals: Wafula (2), Bencherif (41), Felix, (56), Haworth (68)

Blyth: Pearson, Evans, Griffths, Elsdon*, Cunningham, Guy, Thomson, Heslop (Charlton, 82), Blackett (Russell, 67), McKeown (Panos, 59, Scott. Subs not used: Dart, Taylor. 

*Elsdon sent off for Blyth after two yellow cards (47). 

Referee: Michael Crusham

Attendance: Behind closed doors

Posted by Jordan Cronin