Rushall Olympic 0-0 Blyth Spartans

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Rushall Olympic 0-0 Blyth Spartans
Saturday 29 March
Dales Lane
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League
Att: 168

A game that was low on chances but high on controversy saw Spartans come away from Rushall Olympic with a point, although due to results elsewhere their chances of a play off spot remain slim. However on the positive side of things Tom Wade and his men head to Matlock Town on Tuesday in form with only one defeat in 2014 and three away clean sheets in a row in the league.

There were three changes from last Saturday’s win at Ilkeston and all three were due to injuries. Paul Robinson, Ryan Cummings and Ash Davis came in for Damen Mullen, Lewis Horner and Arran Wearmouth although the latter was named on the bench.

The first chance came in the very first minute as Davis found some space on the edge of the Pics area but could only volley straight at Chris Gemmell. It was to be the first of few chances in a poor first half. Ahmed Obeng had the hosts first chance on thirteen minutes as he was released in on goal by a long ball and managed to get a shot past Conor Grant but the connection was weak and allowed Cummings to clear comfortably.

In the warm Staffordshire sunshine temperatures began to rise on the pitch although referee Neal Pratt was the reason why both sets of coaching staff managed to reach boiling point. Ten minutes before the break a long punt into the Spartans area saw Conor Grant come out to claim the ball. The in form keeper took the ball cleanly but was barged to the ground by Karl Ashton. The loose ball was pounced upon and cross back to the penalty spot but Pics defender Jack Duggan could only head wide of an unguarded net.

If Tom Wade and Colin Myers were apoplectic with rage at that lack of decision then describing their sense of injustice five minutes later would take a far better wordsmith than myself. As Robbie Dale cleared another long ball into the Spartans area play moved into the opposition half. With the ball long gone full back Jimmy Turner petulantly kicked out at Dale within sight of the assistant referee. His flag went straight up as he called referee Pratt over. A long discussion took place and much to the chagrin of the Spartans bench only a yellow card was awarded. The final chance of the half came right on the half time whistle as Dale tested Gemmell from twenty yards but it was a test that the hosts keeper passed.

Within five minutes of the restart Spartans really should have been ahead. Some impressive work down the right from Dale saw him swing a cross to the far post. That was met on the volley by Dan Maguire but he could only send his first time effort over the bar from ten yards out. Spartans were looking bright but the next chance fell to the home side on the hour mark. A vicious volley from winger Dance took a deflection but Grant spectacularly tipped over. That was quickly followed by a poor miss from Christian Dacres as the midfielder headed over a Turner cross despite being unmarked in the Spartans area.

With ten minutes left Robbie Dale came within a whisker of giving his side the lead. He ran at Turner on the left side of the area and turned the full back inside out before checking inside on his right foot. A low effort at the near post saw Gemmell get a foot to the ball to flick it on to the post and straight back into his hands, unconventional yes, effective certainly.

As if to put the final stamp of controversy on the game referee Pratt was thrown back into the limelight although he can this time point to a questionable decision making from his assistant on the dugout side. A through ball released Dan Maguire in on goal and as he took a touch into the area he was hauled down by former Witton Albion full back Matty Wood. A flag went up but only a free kick was awarded with the foul a good two yards inside the area. Wood escaped with only a yellow card with the noise levels of the impressive Green Army reaching new highs, although admittedly the cause of the increase was anger.

From the resulting free kick Dale floated a ball to the back post that was met by man of the match Nathan Buddle. He headed back across goal where Ash Davis got a slight touch to send the ball past Gemmell, although to increase the annoyance levels Wood managed to clear off the line to secure a point for the home side in a game both sides may feel they could and should have won.

For Spartans the uphill battle to reach the play off spots seems to have spouted another peak but there are positives for Tom Wade and his men. Inside seven days they have visited two away grounds where they suffered embarrassing defeats last season and comfortably taken four points. The clean sheet for Conor Grant means it’s now two hundred and seventy minutes since he conceded on the road in the league and Spartans remain unbeaten on the road since the Boxing Day defeat to Whitby Town. The draw also made it one defeat in fourteen in all competitions. Positives are there to be seen and progress is being made as Spartans hit the road again this Tuesday with a trip to Matlock Town.

Spartans Man of the Match: Nathan Buddle

Rushall OlympicGemmell, Turner, Wood, Caines, Duggan, Spink(Mugisha 70), Palmer, Dacres, Ashton(Spencer 57), Obeng, Dance Subs not used: Smith, Daniel, Martin Goalscorers None

Blyth Spartans: Grant, Cummings, Watson, Buddle, Parker, Wade, Robinson, Davis, Maguire, Hooks, Dale Subs not used: Kendrick, Purewal, Bonket, Wearmouth Scorers: None

Referee: N Pratt

Posted by BSAFC Admin