SPARTANS FLASHBACK: Leek Town 4-3 (a) FA Cup

As we head towards the start of pre-season fixtures we continue our look back at some of the remarkable games from last season.

Next up is a game that was epic in every sense of the word, as Blyth Spartans sealed their passage through to the First Round of the FA Cup with a dramatic win at Leek Town.

Leek Town 3-4 Blyth Spartans
Saturday 25th October
Attendance: 1067
FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round

Just what is it about Blyth Spartans and the FA Cup? There was plenty of the old Blyth Spirit on display as Tom Wade’s side put a woeful first half performance behind them and battled their way past a determined Leek Town side in a sensational tie at Harrison Park.

The game saw three penalties awarded. One of those was missed by Town striker Andrew Kinsey in the sixth minute of injury time and meant Spartans were rewarded for a wonderful second half display. A two goal half time deficit was turned around in a game that must rank alongside the most memorable in the club’s illustrious FA Cup history.

However for forty five minutes it looked as if it would be the Staffordshire outfit who would be ball fifty eight in Monday night’s draw as they dominated the first half. Inspired by forwards Andrew Kinsey and Liam Shotton they were completely in control.

A turgid opening ten minutes saw the play from both sides look as poor as the Harrison Park pitch that was battered by rain prior to kick off. However on the quarter of an hour mark the hosts had the first chance as Niall Maguire burst forward from the right back position and dragged a shot wide of the far post after going past Jordan Watson.

The pressure was ramped up and there was a real let off for Spartans three minutes later. A long ball over the top saw the ball fell to Shotton who rounded Ryan Hutchinson before firing past Peter Jeffries. An alert Watson cleared off the line but the rebound fell to Kinsey who fired over with the goal gaping.

There was no let off for Spartans on twenty one minutes as the hosts grabbed the lead that they deserved. A ball into the area saw Alex Nicholson take too long to clear and Matt Bell steal the ball before poking into the far corner via the upright.

The pressure was relentless and there was another let off on the half hour mark as Shotton pulled back from the byline for Jordan Johnson. However the midfielder could only find Jeffries far post with his low drive and Spartans scrambled the ball to safety.

A second goal seemed inevitable and it duly arrive ten minutes before the break. A ball in behind the Spartans backline that released Johnson and this time he made no mistake as he calmly went past Jeffries and rolled the ball into the empty net.

That was a lead that Town took into half time at a bouncing Harrison Park. Spartans looked dead and buried with heads down as they headed into the dressing room.

Words were said, strong words, very strong words in fact and they had the desired effect as Spartans reacted to whatever was said in sensational fashion. Within thirty seconds of the restart they pulled a goal back. Dale danced past two men – he always does – before seeing his cross deflected on to the near post. The rebound fell kindly to Neal Hooks and he tapped home from close range.

The perfect start became whatever superlative is better than perfect on fifty one minutes as Stephen Turnbull picked the perfect time to grab his first goal of his third spell at the club. Taking a pass from Danny Parker he powered towards the edge of the area before firing low past a despairing Ben Chapman via a slight knick off Town captain Sam Hall.

The first flashpoint came soon after as Turnbull clashed with Anthony Danylyk with twenty players getting involved in the scuffle after. Cool heads were shown by the officials and yellow cards were shown to the original transgressors.

Twenty minutes into the second half the turnaround was complete. Maguire instinctive first touch and irrepressible strength saw him burst away from two defenders on the left hand side before skipping past Danylyk who couldn’t help but bring him down. Dale stepped up to take the spot kick and rolled calmly into the net, sending Chapman the wrong way. That maintained his record of scoring in every round of the FA Cup so far.

With sixteen minutes left the tie seemed to be settled. Dale broke away from the halfway line and rolled to Jarrett Rivers on the edge of the area. The winger found the top corner with a sensational first time effort to see the immense band of the travelling Green Army celebrate wildly.

Those celebrations were short lived as the hosts were awarded a dubious spot kick and it wouldn’t be their last. Jordan Watson was adjudged to have climbed over Kinsey when clearing a Bell cross. Kinsey stepped up and lashed the spot kick into the top left hand corner. Game on!

Despite the helter skelter nature of the second half surprisingly the final twelve minutes were a relatively calm. That was until referee Joseph Johnson decided to add on a further six minutes of injury time. Spartans ran the clock down well and in a professional manner until the last of those six minutes.

Town substitute broke in on goal and looked set to send the tie into a replay at Croft Park. However a last ditch Jordan Watson challenge saw him clear the ball only to see the official award a second spot kick. A trip to Northumberland was on the horizon for the hosts but Kinsey fired over the bar from the spot and with it went his side’s chances.

The referee blew the whistle moments later to see off ecstatic scenes on the pitch and in the stands for everyone connected with Spartans. They take their place in Monday night’s FA Cup First Round draw and will be ball number fifty eight. Based on this phenomenal cup run no matter who has to face Spartans they will need to fight their way past a determined and proud side backed by the vociferous Green Army. Still fighting, still battling, never give up! Howay Blyth!


Leek Town: Chapman, Smith, Maguire, Hall, Espley, Chadwick, Danylyk, Johnson, Kinsey, Shotton, Bell Subs: Donnelly, Grice, Dicker, Kinsella, Jackson, Lowe, Moorhead

Spartans: Jeffries, Nicholson, Watson, Parker, Hutchinson, Rivers, Hooks, Turnbull, Maguire, Mullen, Dale Subs: Wearmouth, Dixon, Wade, Bell, Quinn

Post-match quotes
Danny Parker
“We were abysmal in the first half and it was psychologically hard to fight back. We were given a hammering at half time and rightly so. It’s great to get through and we just about deserved it after a brilliant second half”

Stephen Turnbull
“Some years you feel it’s your year and it feels that way, like we were meant to be where we are. I read somewhere online that the run in 1977/78 that the club had four home draws and
faced one replay just as we have this year. Seems like something is written in the stars”

Tom Wade
“The support we get away from home is awesome. They stick with us through thick and thin! We’d like to thank them all”

AudioBoom coverage
A recording of the story of the day including interviews with Tom Wade, Phil Castiaux and Spartans supporters can be found here

Photos of the Day

Posted by BSAFC Admin