The long and winding road

Saturday’s dramatic win over Leek Town saw Spartans into the FA Cup First Round proper and it’s safe to say it hasn’t been an easy path to a potential clash with a Football League team. As the Spartans players, management and supporters settle down to take in Monday night’s First Round draw they can do so knowing that they have come through four difficult ties to earn their place alongside the likes of former FA Cup winners Portsmouth and Coventry City as well as former Premier League clubs Barnsley, Bradford City and Oldham Athletic.

Here we look back at how Tom Wade’s side got through to the First Round proper, the 31st time the club has achieved this feat.

First Qualifying Round
Darlington 0-0 Blyth Spartans
Heritage Park
Total Journey Distance: 98 miles
Total Journey Time: 2 hours 24 minutes

Spartans faced a wait to find out who would provide their opposition in the First Qualifying Round. Lancashire outfit Nelson hosted Northern League side West Auckland Town in the Preliminary Round with the County Durham side winning the right to face Darlington. That clash went to a replay at Heritage Park and it was the Quakers who would meet Tom Wade’s side.

Should Spartans pull out a plum tie in tonight’s draw they could do worse than to look back at the game with the Quakers as a sign things were going their way. Three times Martin Grey’s side would hit the woodwork and Spartans keeper Peter Jeffries produced a stupendous penalty save to ensure the two sides would do it all over again at Croft Park as a stalemate was played out. Highlights and the match report are below:


Match Report

First Qualifying Round replay
Blyth Spartans 3-0 Darlington
Croft Park

So it was just over forty eight hours later when the Quakers made the trip to Northumberland as another pulsating cup tie took place. A lacklustre display in the first half from Spartans saw Darlington in control but still Martin Grey’s side couldn’t find a way past Peter Jeffries although they did come close as once again the woodwork came to Spartans rescue. This time it was former Spartan Graeme Armstrong who hit the bar with a header and that meant the sides went into half time scoreless.

The second half was a completely different game as Spartans blew away the Quakers with a brace from Dan Maguire and a sublime solo effort from captain Robbie Dale. The highlights and match report are below


Match Report

Second Qualifying Round
Skelmersdale United 1-4 Blyth Spartans
West Lancashire College Stadium
Total Journey Distance: 348 miles
Total Journey Time: 6 hours 44 minutes

In reality Spartans couldn’t have been handed a sterner test after beating the Quakers. Skelmersdale United were riding high at the top of the Evo-Stik NPL and had beaten Spartans in the league two weeks before the cup tie.

A test was expected but it was one that was passed with flying colours as Spartans smashed the Lancashire outfit. Goals from Jarrett Rivers, Matthew Wade, Robbie Dale and Dan Maguire meant that Kenny Strickland’s thunderbolt was nothing but a mere blot on the FA Cup landscape for the impressive band of the travelling Green Army.

Match Highlights:

Match Report

Third Qualifying Round
Mickleover Sports 1-2 Blyth Spartans
Raydar Stadium
Total Journey Distance: 362 miles
Total Journey Time: 6 hours 44 minutes

A draw between Bedworth United and Mickleover Sports meant Spartans faced three day wait to find out just who they would face in the Third Qualifying Round. It was to be the latter and the Green Army faced another long trip down the motorway to Derbyshire. They responded in their numbers and Tom Wade’s side were given phenomenal support at the Raydar Stadium.

An early Robbie Dale goal set Spartans on their way but they were pegged back right on half time as Sports’ defender Nico Degirolamo headed his side back on to level terms. A tense second half took place but it was Spartans who got stronger. Jarrett Rivers rolled home a dramatic late winner to put his side into the Fourth and Final Qualifying Round draw and saw off a previous unbeaten at home Mickleover side.

Jarrett Rivers goal:

Match Report

Fourth Qualifying Round
Leek Town 3-4 Blyth Spartans
Harrison Park
Total Journey Distance: 376 miles
Total Journey Time: 8 hours 2 minutes

Alas it would be yet another away day for the Green Army with Staffordshire their destination. Leek Town had been in great form and Spartans knew that they were in for one final big test as they battled for a place in the First Round proper.

A non entity of a first half display saw the hosts go in deservedly two goals to the good and had it not been for the excellent keeping of Peter Jeffries it could and maybe should have been worse for Spartans.

The second half was barely six minutes old as midfield duo Neal Hooks and Stephen Turnbull got Spartans back level. Then a Robbie Dale penalty twenty minutes into the second half turned the tie on it’s head and the stretch seemed complete when Jarrett Rivers curled a wonderful left foot effort into the top right hand corner of the net. Game over?

Far from being game over the hosts came back and with twelve minutes left striker Andrew Kinsey scored from the spot to cut Spartans lead to one. With six minutes of injury time signalled the striker had another penalty but sent it well over the bar to send the Green Army wild and Spartans into the First Round proper once again.

AudioBoom Review of the Day

Match Report

Cup Run Stats:
Matches played: 5
Matches won: 4
Matches drawn 1
Goals scored: 13
Goals conceded: 5
Average goals scored per game: 2.6
Average goals conceded per game: 1.0
4- Robbie Dale
3- Dan Maguire and Jarrett Rivers
1- Neal Hooks, Matthew Wade and Stephen Turnbull
Miles travelled: 1,184 miles
Time travelled: 24 hours and 4 minutes (From Blyth to town of opposition and back to Blyth)

Posted by BSAFC Admin