By Glen Maxwell
In association with:
ALAN McLEAN FCMA CGMA
Chartered Management Accountant
Evo-Stik Premier League
Tuesday February 28 2017
Spennymoor Town 2-1 Blyth Spartans
It was a case of unlucky 13 for Spartans in 2017 – as Spennymoor inflicted Blyth’s first defeat of this year with a 2-1 triumph.
Kallum Griffiths scored a 20-yard free kick on 23 minutes, before Jamie Chandler scored Town’s second just four minutes later.
Daniel Maguire scored for the tenth consecutive game, but Town were able to just hold on and claim a valuable three points in the Evo-Stik Premier League promotion race.
Blyth made one change from the side that saw off a spirited Corby Town 4-2 on Saturday, with David McTiernan given his first start in place of Sean Reid.
Spennymoor named former Spartans Dan Lowson and Glen Taylor in their starting lineup, while Graeme Armstrong was named on the bench. Meanwhile, legendary Blyth boss Harry Dunn also watched on from the stands at the Brewery Field.
Spartans started with a quick tempo and created the game’s first chance in the third minute, when a throw-in from Maguire released Luke Armstrong in the area. The young striker struck low from a tight angle, which called on Lowson to get down well and save at his near post.
An intelligent sixth-minute set-piece from Blyth then played in Maguire, but his shot was blocked behind by former Gateshead defender James Curtis.
Dale couldn’t direct Jarrett Rivers’ great cross towards goal soon after and it nearly cost his side – as Spennymoor broke from the miss. Robert Ramshaw ran at goal from halfway under pressure from Dale, but blazed wide when he really should have tested Paul Woolston.
McTiernan’s first piece of action on his first start had Spartans’ fans hearts in their mouths – as he caught Nathan Fisher late with a strong tackle. Some – what can only be described as disgusting – play-acting and rolling around from Fisher tried to convince referee John Matthews to produce a red, but the official luckily saw past his attempts and showed McTiernan a yellow.
Another yellow card for Nathan Buddle on 23 minutes resulted in Spennymoor taking the lead – as Griffiths’ 20-yard found the back of the net, despite the desperate attempts of Woolston to keep it out with a dive across goal.
Things got even worse for Spartans just four minutes later, when Town bulldozed their way through the away side’s defence and doubled their lead. Ramshaw had the ball taken off his toes by Chandler, who dispatched a hard drive past Woolston.
Blyth had every reason to feel shell-shocked with back-to-back Spennymoor goals, but they were desperately unlucky not to halve the deficit just after the half-hour mark.
Dale’s free kick dropped nicely for McTiernan, but his great half-volley produced an equally impressive diving save from Lowson. Jordan Watson kept the ball in and cut it back to Maguire, but his follow-up effort was also stopped at point-blank range by the former Blyth keeper.
Maguire then turn two Town defenders inside and out on 36 minutes, but could only shoot straight at Lowson again.
Spartans were then left incensed – as they had two penalty shouts ignored. First, the diminutive Maguire – who was having his shirt pulled in the area – was adjudged to have brought down lofty defender Curtis instead, before Armstrong was felled from behind in the box.
With Blyth given every reason to lose their cool as the half time whistle approached, Armstrong was able to keep his composure when he was picked out at the back post by Rivers. The 20-year-old’s shot was blocked at his feet, before Spennymoor were able to finally hack away the danger from the resulting melee.
Spartans looked to keep up their attacking spell after the break, but it was the hosts that went closest to scoring in the opening few minutes of the second half – as Curtis’ header was nodded off the line by Watson.
Shane Henry shot from the left moments later, but Woolston got his body behind the ball to keep him at bay.
Spartans had to wait seven minutes to register a chance in the second half, but then had two come along back-to-back. Rivers’ cross was headed down across goal by Buddle, but Armstrong was denied twice again by Lowson with the follow-up.
Woolston then pulled out an outstanding instinctive stop to deny Town a third on the hour mark – after Andrew Johnson glanced Fisher’s cross on with his head.
Ryan Hutchinson headed wide from a Dale corner, but another set-piece from the Spartans skipper on 67 minutes saw the visitors finally best Lowson in the Spennymoor goal.
Dale’s corner was drilled low to Rivers at the edge of the area, but his shot was blocked. The ball fell kindly for Maguire, who squeezed a shot in on the turn at the far post past a despairing Lowson.
Matty Pattison – who had replaced McTiernan on 70 minutes – showed his quality within the first two minutes of being introduced, when he cut in on his left and sailed a shot towards the top corner from 25 yards. With Lowson well beaten, he was relieved to see the ball bounce just on the top his goal.
With 14 minutes to go, Chandler produced what will likely be one of the misses of the season – after Spenny broke with a three-on-two scenario. The ball ended up with the former Gateshead midfielder two yards out with an open goal to fire into, but he clattered the crossbar while trying to be clever.
Curtis then hit the crossbar himself with five minutes to go – as they looked to quell the Spartans’ attempts to force an equaliser.
Blyth fans behind the goal thought they’d have one last shout of celebration two minutes later, but Armstrong’s header at the back post was blocked behind by Joseph Tait – as Lowson struggled to get across his goal.
Another fantastic save from Woolston denied Taylor a certain goal against his former side in stoppage time. However, Blyth had to stomach defeat for the first time in 13 games – as time ran out on Spartans’ fight back.
Alun Armstrong’s men will look to get straight back to winning ways when they travel to Sutton Coldfield Town on Saturday.
Spennymoor Town: Lowson, Griffiths, Mason, Chandler, Tait, Curtis, Ramshaw (White 73), Henry, Taylor, Fisher (Dowson 68), Johnson (Mitchell 63).
Subs not used: Anderson, G Armstrong.
Blyth Spartans: Woolston, Atkinson (Cartwright 34), Watson, Laidler (Mullen 59), Hutchinson, Buddle, Rivers, McTiernan (Pattison 70), Maguire, L Armstrong, Dale.
Subs not used: Wrightson, McHugh.
Referee: John Matthews
Spartans Man of the Match: Paul Woolston