Spartans beaten by Sweeney stunner in pre-season opener

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cima-mip-logo-2.jpgBlyth Spartans 0-1 Carlisle United
Pre-season Friendly
Croft Park
Tuesday 7th July 2015
Attendance: 625

A stunning volley from Carlisle United midfielder Antony Sweeney ensured that Blyth Spartans were beaten in their opening pre-season friendly.

In reality this was a stereotypical pre-season fixture with disjointed play, played at an average pace, with numerous substitutions taking place throughout the game.

Signs of quality, genuine quality, were sporadic at best as both sides gently felt their way into the opening stages of their preparations for when the serious stuff kicks in next month.

The winning goal was worth the entry fee alone as former Hartlepool United midfielder Sweeney smashed home a twenty yard volley that flew past Spartans debutant keeper Adam McHugh. Worthy of the admission fee and worthy of being the matchwinning effort.

The opening stages brought little to talk of, with Dombaxe firing over from the edge of the box for the Cumbrians in the fourth minute. Robbie Dale led Spartans’ riposte to that chance as he danced past two challenges and brought a save out of former Croft Park favourite Mark Gillespie in the visitors goal. Ryan Hutchinson fired the rebound over from twelve yards but they were the only chance of note.

A cagey affair was played out in the remainder of the half, with Spartans assistant manager Lee Picton’s pre-match prediction of a tactical battle proving to be correct and to his side’s credit they were matching their SkyBet League Two opponents across the park.

The half hour mark brought a penalty appeal from Tom Wade’s side, although it can be easily classified as hopeful at best.

Michael Richardson, who seemed the most likely to provide the creative spark for the home side, tried his luck from the edge of the area with a vicious right foot effort. That struck the arm of United defender David Atkinson, but any penalty award from referee Paul Brown would have been very harsh on the Middlesbrough academy product.

The visitors almost took the lead ten minutes before the break and would have done had it not been for the brilliance of Nick Thomson in the Spartans goal.

A classy move involving Ibehre and Hill gave Dombaxe a sight of goal from the edge of the box and his curling effort seemed destined for Thomson’s far corner. However he was up to the challenge and produced an excellent full-length diving save to ensure the deadlock remained unbroken.

The visitors were now on top and a sublime cross from Danny Grainger found the head of Hill, who really should have done better with his effort from ten yards landing around the same distance wide of Thomson’s far post. The half time whistle blew shortly after that chance and with it came the inevitable raft of substitutions.

There were just six minutes on the clock in the second half when the visitors took the lead. The dangerous looking Danny Kearns teased and tormented one of Spartans four trialists down the left and got the touchline before pulling back to the edge of the area.

That pullback was met first time on the volley by Antony Sweeney and nestled inside Adam McHugh’s near post to give the Cumbrians the lead.

And it was the same player who almost doubled his side’s lead just five minutes later as the alert defending of Damen Mullen cleared a Stephen Rigg effort off the line. The rebound fell to Sweeney but he could only find the back of the stand from ten yards out.

The play was dominated by the visitors as the half wore on but they couldn’t find a second goal with McHugh bravely denying former Northern League player Rigg after the forward had been played in on goal by Patrick Brough.

There was to be one last chance for the home side to snatch a draw and it fell to Michael Richardson as he raced on to a delightfully weighted through ball by Neal Hooks.

Richardson was up against an ever-widening angle as the ball skipped away from him towards the byline but he did managed to smash a shot towards the near post. United keeper Dan Hanford stayed big and parried the shot away for a corner that was easily cleared by the visitors.

As the final whistle was blown both sides could reflect on game that provided little in the way of quality but did give them a chance to work their way towards match fitness.

Spartans next pre-season fixture takes place next Tuesday and Blackpool make the trip to Croft Park

Blyth Spartans: Thomson, Nicholson, Mullen, Parker, Hutchinson, Hooks, Richardson, Dale, Wearmouth, Wade, Turnbull Subs not used: Bramley, A Trialist, B Trialist, C Trialist, D Trialist, Reid, McHugh Goals: None

Spartans star man: Stephen Turnbull

Carlisle United: Gillespie, Miller, Raynes, Atkinson, Grainger, Thompson, Dicker, Dombaxte, Logan, Hill, Ibhere Subs not used: Hanford, McQueen, Pappoe, Meppen-Walter, Brough, Osei, Sweeney, Francis, Keanrs, Asamoah, Rigg Goals: Sweeney 51

Carlisle United star man: Danny Kearns

Match Entertainment: 2/5

Referee: Paul Brown
Assistant Referees: Craig Chatten, Darren Wylam

Photo: Rob Smith (Media Image Ltd)

Posted by BSAFC Admin