By Aaron Hindhaugh
In association with:
ALAN McLEAN FCMA CGMA
Chartered Management Accountant
Vanarama National League North
Saturday 17 August 2019
Blyth Spartans 0-1 Hereford
Blyth Spartans slumped to a fourth defeat in a row, despite an encouraging first half performance against Hereford.
Mike Symons put The Bulls in front after 24 minutes, though it was Lee Clark’s side that shaded the opening 45 minutes.
And despite the best efforts of on-loan Newcastle United goalkeeper Nathan Harker, who pulled a string of excellent saves, the hosts were unable to find an equaliser in a largely disappointing first-half.
Clark made three changes from the side that lost to title favourites York City in midweek. Chris Mason, Damen Mullen and Scott Fenwick replaced Ryan Hutchinson, Anthony Callaghan and Dale Pearson.
Spartans started the better of the two but it was the visitors who squandered the first real opportunity of the game when Josh Gowling headed over from six-yards out after 10 minutes.
It was set-pieces where Hereford carried their biggest threat. Tom Owen-Evans rose highest to the second ball as his half volley stung the palms of Harker before he collected at the second attempt.
However, it was a clever passing move from the visitors opened up the Spartans. Rowan Liburd was picked out on the right-wing before rolling the ball across the box to Symons, who calmly finished from three-yards,
Indeed, it was a good response from Blyth as Adam Wrightson, who had been Spartans’ best outlet, beat two Hereford defenders with some great skill in the box.
However, his curling effort was cleared off the line after beating Brandon Hall in the Hereford goal.
Craig Spooner then found himself with loads of space on the penalty spot after Olly Scott picked him out, but the midfielder could not direct his header goalwards.
Despite all of Spartans’ pressure, Liburd looked set to double Hereford’s lead if it was not for Harker who pulled off an outstanding save with his legs to divert the shot behind for a corner.
An audacious effort from Damen Mullen soon followed as he tried to catch Hall off his line from the halfway line and the Hereford ‘keeper had to scurry back on his line to tip the ball away for a corner.
In the second half, neither side stamped their authority on the game until Hereford did in the closing stages when Blyth pushed for an equaliser.
Harker once again kept the home side in the game as he made a great reaction save to tip over Jordan Nicholson’s fierce effort from close range.
Then, he pulled off arguably one of the saves of the season as he made an almost impossible save from Reece Styche while falling backwards, before pushing the ball upwards and away from the goal while on the floor, a truly great piece of goalkeeping.
Spartans ran out of energy deep into the second half after the players ran themselves into the ground in the first half.
However, Clark will be able to take positives from the game as there were definite improvements from recent performances.
Spartans XI: Harker; Devitt, Robson, Mason; Scott 7 (Callaghan 66), Mullen, Spooner (Mouanda 70 ), Orrell, Evans (Butler 70); Wrightson, Fenwick. Subs not used: Hutchinson, Horner
Hereford XI: Hall; Hanley, Gowling, Cullinane-Liburd, Hodgkiss; Maye, Jagger-Cane, Owen-Evans (Pope 90); Liburd (Nicholson 76), Symons (Styche 76), AshSubs not used: Bray, O’Sullivan.
Referee: Richard Holmes