Whitby Town 1-3 Blyth Spartans
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League
27th August 2012
Goals from Phil Airey, Joe Kendrick and Robbie Dale ensured that Spartans put Saturday’s home defeat to Hednesford Town behind them in the best possible fashion and handed manager Tommy Cassidy a winning return to Whitby Town’s Turnbull Ground. On a day when the weather seemed to dictate how the action would be played out it was Spartans who came stronger in the last ten minutes and were able to take three points home and prepare for a tough looking clash with Marine at Croft Park on Saturday.
With midfielder Tom Berj still out injured Sam Hodgson retained his place in midfield and Jordon Mellish remained at the heart of the defence with Wayne Buchanan, with the returning Carl Jones on the bench. It was Spartans who were quickest out of the blocks and had the first chance of the game when a loose ball fell to Shaun Vipond twenty five yards out but his well struck effort was always rising and went over home keeper Liversedge’s bar. However there was to be no denying Spartans on six minutes when a Lee Mason through ball released Phil Airey and the former Newcastle United striker calmly rolled the ball past the keeper and just as he did on Saturday put his side one up. There was almost an immediate reply and the oldest rule in football was nearly adhered to at the same time. Former Spartans striker Graeme Armstrong was denied from six yards out by a superb instinctive save from Conor Grant. Armstrong was again in the heat of the action as he played a part in getting Whitby back on level terms. He turned in the box and drew a foul from Shaun Vipond and the referee had no hesitancy in pointing to the spot, a penalty kick that was duly converted by Mulligan.
The wet and windy conditions then took hold of the game and there was very little action as things turned increasingly scrappy. It wasn’t until ten minutes before half time when anything of any note happened when a good break forward from Spartans right back Shaun Utterson resulted in his picking out Craig Farrell at the far post but the striker’s acrobatic effort went just past the post. Not long after Robbie Dale played a pass into Shaun Vipond and the Spartans midfielder was again unable to keep his long range effort down and it went just over the host’s bar. The teams went into the interval level which was probably just about fair on the balance of play during the first period.
Within five minutes of the restart Spartans had a golden opportunity to retake the lead when a fantastic run down the wing from Dale saw him overhit a pass to Farrell, however the ball fell to Airey who struck an effort goalwards with his left foot but was unable to get sufficient power on it and the ball was blocked on the edge of the six yard box. Just as with the first half the conditions were making things tough for both teams and nobody was able to take the game by the scruff of the neck and make something happen. That was until ten minutes from time when Spartans stepped things up a gear and in a remarkable passage of play created five excellent chances in seven minutes. First Dale released Farrell one on one with Liversedge in the Town goal but the former Carlisle United striker curled his effort just wide of the far post. Airey, Farrell and Mason all went close in quick succession and there was a growing feeling it was going to be one of those days for Spartans.
That was until the very last minute of normal time when Robbie Dale drove into the box and was brought down by home defender Portas and the referee awarded Spartans a spot kick that was very coolly finished by left back Joe Kendrick who showed no signs of nerves and celebrating with the travelling Green Army behind Liversedge’s goal. There were to be no hint of complacency shown from Cassidy’s side and the goal gave them the confidence to extend their lead and killed off any chances of a comeback when some pressing from Farrell enabled him to win the ball back and release Robbie Dale who crashed home his fourth goal in four games despite the last ditch efforts from two home defenders on the line. Shortly after the referee blew the whistle and the celebrations started for the Green Army and everyone connected with Spartans.
Spartans Man of the Match: Wayne Buchanan
Blyth Spartans: Grant, Utterson, Kendrick, Vipond, Buchanan, Mellish, Mason, Hodgson, Dale, Farrell, Airey Subs: King, Blandford, Hunter, Jones, Davis Goalscorers: Airey 6, Kendrick 90 pen, Dale 90+2
Whitby Town: Liversedge, Williams, Robinson, Burgess, White, Portas, McTiernan, Tait, Armstrong, Mulligan, Henry Subs: O’Mahoney, Wilson, James, Snaith, Campbell Goalscorers: Mulligan 18 pen