Goals from Craig Farrell, Jordon Mellish and Chris Fairless gave Blyth Spartans their first pre-season win at the third attempt with a 3-1 at Sunderland RCA. Tommy Cassidy’s side continued their improvement during the pre-season campaign and followed up the impressive draw with local rivals Gateshead with a comprehensive win on Wearside. Cassidy made two changes from the game on Saturday with goalkeeper Matty Hunter making his first appearance of the season replacing Conor Grant whilst Joe Kendrick came in for Sam Hodgson at left back.
The opening period of the game was all about Spartans and this culminated in a ninth minute goal for Craig Farrell. He notched home his third goal in as many games as he latched onto an impressive left wing cross from the impressive Robbie Dale and lashed the ball home from close range. They kept up the pressure and forced three consecutive corners with Shaun Vipond unfortunate to not get a shot away after a dribble past two in the box. The home side’s first effort came from Jardine as he hit a cross shot narrowly wide of Hunter’s far post. Just before the half hour mark Phil Bannister fired narrowly wide after good work from strike partner Farrell and Berj went close from another impressive Robbie Dale cross. Sunderland RCA equalised minutes later as Jardine raced through onto a through and tucked the ball past Hunter. However shortly after, following further Spartans pressure the lead was restored. A Dale corner fell to Abu Saim whose shot was only parried by Atkinson but it fell perfectly to Jordon Mellish who finished well under pressure. Two more chances in the five minutes before half time saw both Bannister and Vipond denied by last ditch challenges but Spartans kept their 2-1 lead going into the interval.
An early change in the second half saw a change in goal for Spartans as Conor Grant replaced Hunter and was straight into the action. A well hit free kick from twenty yards out saw Grant palm the ball well away. That was temporary reprieve for the home side as some excellent work from Saim saw him lay the ball off to Farrell and his shot from twenty yards was deflected over by RCA defender Preston. Ten minutes into the second half and Spartans increased their lead as the hard working and tenacious Shaun Utterson pressure a home defender into a mistake and the ball fell kindly to newly arrived substitute Chris Fairless who slotted home from the edge of the box as the home side waited for a whistle from the referee that never came. Twenty minutes into the second half and the home side could have got themselves back into the game as striker Gordon hit the bar with a header. From then on though it was all about Spartans with right back Utterson latching onto a loose ball on the edge of the box and curling a shot just wide of the post. The last chance of the game fell the Fairless as he crashed a shot against the post from the edge of the box and the game ended soon after with the Spartans running out 3-1 winners.
Next up for Tommy Cassidy’s side are Blue Square South Division side Tonbridge Angels, who visit Croft Park this coming Saturday in a 3pm kick off.