Report | Spartans miss out on CEFO CFS Challenge Trophy success

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Saturday, July 24, 2021


Blyth Spartans lost out on the CEFO CFS Challenge Trophy with a 2-1 defeat against South Shields in front of 993 supporters at Croft Park.

It was a game of two halves in Northumberland. The Mariners deservedly led 1-0 at the break after Darius Osei’s header.

Osei then added a second on 48 minutes, with his goal counting despite a clear handball in the build-up.

But Blyth immediately responded – Karl Byrne with his third goal in as many games as he lobbed the ball over goalkeeper Myles Boney.

Michael Nelson’s men controlled the game from then on but were unable to find an equaliser against Graham Fenton’s full-time out.

With some pre-season silverware on the line, the game was played with a real competitive edge and at a high intensity. 

Nathan Buddle captained Spartans for the first time and he almost let Ntumba Massanka in on six minutes when he slipped at the near post. His teammates, however, managed to clear.

He somewhat redeemed himself, however. With the pace of Massanka bursting through on goal, Buddle showed great strength to prevent the Shields forward from going one-on-one with Alex Mitchell. 

Connor Thomson then missed his first of two big first-half opportunities.

The Spartans striker snatched at a weak back pass by Dillion Morse to shoot wide with Boney off his line.

Massanka continued to be at the heart of the Mariners’ early chances and he should have opened the scoring on 19 minutes as he slid wide Nathan Lowe’s defence-splitting pass. 

The visitors, with the better of the possession stats, were applying plenty of pressure but generally the Blyth defence stood firm – until a 29th-minute corner. 

Lowe delivered from the right, Osei got in front of his man at the front post to head past Mitchell in the Blyth goal. 

Lowe then had a fantastic opportunity of his own.

Robert Briggs floated a ball in between the Blyth backline but the unmarked midfielder headed wide, despite having time and space to bring it under control.

Shields’ missed chances could – and perhaps should have – been punished by Thomson for Blyth. 

A ball over the top fell perfectly into the path of Thomson. He took the ball in his stride but drove his effort past the far post. 

The Mariners controversially doubled their lead just after the break.

Conor Tee’s low delivery looked to have been controlled by Osei’s arm before the winger poked home his second of the afternoon from close range. 

Spartans swiftly equalised through Byrne – and that’s when Nelson’s side began to take control of the encounter. 

Trialist’s header from a long Blyth clearance was flicked into the path of Byrne, who cooly lifted the ball over goalkeeper Boney. A great finish.

Robbie Dale made an immediate impact from the bench and almost headed home an equaliser when stretched to meet Nicky Deverdic’s in-swinging free-kick.

Dale then turned provider for Deverdics via a quick-thinking corner, which caught the former Hartlepool United midfielder by surprise as he snatched at the effort to fire into the side netting.

The two then combined again. Dale won a high ball in the air, it bounced to Deverdics but his volley was tamed and comfortably claimed by Boney.

Spartans finished the match well on top but an equaliser evaded them as the Mariners lifted the inaugural CEFO CFS Challenge Trophy.

It was Nelson’s side first defeat of pre-season after wins against Middlesbrough under-23s and North Shields.

Blyth: Mitchell, Evans (Painter 72), Lees, Buddle, Watson (Trialist 66), Liddle (Byrne 45), Deverdics, Reid (Hickey 55), O’Donnell (McKeown 72), Thomson (McNall 61), Gillies (Dale 55). Subs not used, Trialist, Clark.. 

South Shields: Boney, Verstraaten, Kempster, Trialist (Agnew 58), Morse, Ross, Osei (McGowan 87), Briggs, Massanka, Lowe, Tee. Subs not used: Neary, Hodgson, Steavens. 

Referee: Adam Williamson

Attendance: 993

Posted by BSAFC Admin