By Liam O’Brien
In association with:
ALAN McLEAN FCMA CGMA
Chartered Management Accountant
Motorama National League North
Saturday August 3, 2019
Blyth Spartans 1-2 Gloucester City
Blyth Spartans slipped to a narrow defeat to Gloucester City on the opening day of the new National League North campaign.
The visitors were gifted the lead just before the break when loanee Christopher Mason hacked down Joe Parker inside the area, allowed Joe Hanks to convert the spot-kick.
With Blyth ending the strongest, Gloucester provided the sucker punch in the 79th minute when Marlon Jackson headed from Hanks’ corner.
Damen Mullen’s goal moments later proved nothing more than a consolation as the game ended on a controversial referring decision as Robbie Dale went down under the challenge of Sam Avery.
In what largely felt like a pre-season-esque first-half, Lee Clark’s side started the better and created their best chance of the half after nine minutes.
Scott Fenwick hung high in the air only to thwarted on the goal line by goalkeeper Zach Jeacock before the follow up fell to Adam Wrightson, who aimed straight at the goalkeeper.
Gloucester had taken 25 minutes to register their first big chance of the game. Nathan Harker, signed on loan from Newcastle on Friday, pulling off a top-draw save to deny Parker.
The momentum switched a little as Gloucester continued to put pressure on the Blyth goal as Vincent Harper whipped a cross onto head Jackson but his header went wide.
Fabien Robert, brother of former Magpies winger Laurent, then weaved his way through the Blyth defence, with striker creeping just wide.
In 43rd minute, the visitors capitalised on their little spell of possession when Mason fouled Parker. Hanks stepped up to send his spot-kick right down the middle of the goal.
Blyth mustered out a decent opportunity on the brink of half-time, shifting the ball onto his right foot from outside the area, which forced Jeacock to hold.
Soon after the break, Anthony Callaghan sent in a wicked free-kick delivery but no one was to apply to touch that was needed to divert it home.
Wrightson tried his best to get his side back into when his switched over to the left side, cutting inside only to find the left goal sanction with his low shot.
But just as the hosts began to build some momentum, M Jackson headed home at the near post in what proved to be the winner.
Wrightson’s free-kick across the face of goal was struck into the corner by Mullen as Spartans created a grandstand finish.
Blyth piled the pressure on the Gloucester defence. Callaghan whipped a cross into Fenwick, where his header landed inches away from the top corner.
Rhys Evans then witnessed his left-footed shot beaten away from Jeacock in a powerful shot which travelled through a host of bodes.
Having been introduced in the closing stages, Dale made an instant impact and thought he had won Blyth a penalty in stoppage time.
It appeared that referee Jonny Urwin signalled correctly for a spot-kick. Instead, play carried on as Zeacock took his goal line.
Spartans: Harker, Evans, Callaghan, Mullen, Devitt, Mason, Wrightson, Spooner (Mouanda 58), Fenwick, Orrell (Dale 84), Pearson (Sweet 64). Subs not used: Robson, Scott.
Goal: Mullen 81.
Gloucester City: Jeacock, Thomas, Harper, Hamilton, Avery (C), Knowles, Parker, Hanks, M.Jackson (Hainault 86), J.Jackson (Kotwica 83), Robert. Subs not used: Smith, Bremner, Richards
Goals: Hanks (43 Pen), M.Jackson (79).
Referee: Jonny Urwin
Man of the Match: Anthony Callaghan