Saturday 5th December
Blue Square North
Attendance – 483
Blyth Spartans –
Jack Norton, Stephen Harrison (sub Darren Craddock), John Brackstone, Michael Tait, Gareth Williams, Rikki Bains, Mark Doninger, Stephen Turnbull, Paul Brayson, Ian Graham, Alex Francis.
Subs not used – Josh Gillies, James Marwood, John Alexander and Mark Bell.
Stafford Rangers –
Lee Evans, Ashley Wooliscroft, Jon Patrick (Scott Lycett), Tom Thorley, Bobby Wilson, Curtley Williams, Fabrice Kasiama, Tony Dinning, Warwick Alexander (Patrick Samba), Henrik Ojamaa, Andre Francis (Eugene Francis).
Subs not used – Jermaine Johnson and Adam Whitehouse.
Spartans travelled to Staffordshire to face Stafford Rangers for the second time in a fortnight, following the Brayson-inspired 2-0 win in the FA Trophy. Manager Mick Tait was able to recall Michael Tait to the starting XI with James Marwood dropping to the substitutes bench.
The early exchanges in the game were pretty uneventful and even, with Spartans playing the more passing football, but without any real cutting edge up front. The Spartans best early move was a neat interchange of passes between Tait and Ian Graham, with the latter chesting the ball down to Paul Brayson, whose shot from the edge of the box was dragged wide of the target.
On 15 minutes a rare mistake from Rikki Bains allowed the impressive Henrik Ojamaa to bear down on an underhit backpass, but ‘keeper Jack Norton was swiftly out to quash any danger and spare any blushes for the on-loan defender.
Midway through the half, Stafford fashioned an excellent chance when Ojamaa left a couple of Spartans defenders in his wake down the left wing before crossing well to Alexander, whose shot was screwed well wide, when excellently placed.
The Spartans best chance of the half fell to Ian Graham, whose slaloming run saw him go past three Stafford defenders, but after all his hard work, his shot was placed over the bar
Half Time 0-0
Much like the first half, the second started quietly, the main action being an excellent finger tip save from Jack Norton as he pushed an Omajaa drive from 20 yards wide for a corner.
Graham nearly extended the Spartans lead on 72 minutes, good chest control from Brayson saw him feed Graham, but his shot from the edge of the box was deflected and this took the pace off the ball, which was gathered by Bell at the second attempt.
With time running out Stafford were given a life line. A goal mouth scramble, which saw Stephen Harrison left flat out on the penalty spot, led to the Stafford winger picking the ball up on the left hand side of the penalty area and the referee had no hestitation in pointing to the spot when the winger was baulked by Gareth Williams.
After a lengthy delay, which saw Harrison stretchered off, Tom Thorley stepped up and sent Norton the wrong way, to give the hosts a late point.
Full Time 1-1