Report by Jordan Cronin
In association with:
Alan McLean FCMA CGMA
Chartered Management Consultant
Vanarama National League North
Tuesday 13th February 2018
Tamworth 0-3 Blyth Spartans
A hat-trick from Robbie Dale helped Blyth Spartans to back-to-back victories in National League North – though also had Peter Jameson to thank for a flurry of late saves.
The match brought non-stop end-to-end action but it was Spartans who emerged as the most clinical and were grateful to the crossbar – on three occasions.
Dale headed Spartans into the initiative midway through the second-half, courtesy of a gift from Tamworth keeper Jack Stevens.
However, the hosts perhaps felt aggrieved to head into the break behind with Callum Powell and Aman Verma both denied by the crossbar.
Dale’s second shortly after half-time had no fortune about it as the Blyth captain unleashed a precisely aimed free-kick into the left-hand side of Stevens’ goal.
But back Tamworth came, and the woodwork, with substitute Zack Kotwica the next to be left frustrated by the crossbar, seconds after a Jameson double save. The Spartans keeper was then at it moments later when Verma was kept out with arguably Jameson’s best of the evening.
Two late saves followed in the final five minutes to deny Verma and Darryl Knights before Dale completed his hat-trick on the counter attack.
Alun Armstrong named an unchanged starting 11 from the side that beat Brackley Town 3-0 on Saturday.
It was The Lambs who created the first chance of the evening as Powell’s 25-yard effort dipped onto the crossbar with Jameson beaten.
Blyth shortly gained a foothold in the game but Nathan Buddle still had to be in the right place at the right time to deflect Verma’s close-range effort away from the goal line.
Dan Maguire looked lively throughout the first-half, with his attempt in the 20th minute being his most noticeable attempt – forcing a strong save from Stevens, who parried behind.
And from the resulting corner, it eventually led to Blyth’s opener.
Dale directed a header on goal from just inside the area, which was enough to beat Stevens -with many turning away anticipating a comfortable save.
Joel Kettle made two exceptional blocks to prevent goal bound efforts from Dale and Kieran Green, though his hard work was almost undone when he gifted the ball to Maguire, but his keeper made some ground on his error to intercept Maguire on the left-hand side of the box.
Inbetween Maguire’s chance, Tamworth, in the blink of an eye, went very close to levelling.
Verma beat the offside trap in the 28th minute but Jameson superbly read the attacker’s ambition to round him – bravely diving at his feet of the attacker.
In the same minute, The Lambs were prevented by the crossbar for a second time – with Verma left disappointed once more – this time via a close-range header.
In contrasting motions to the first period, Spartans made a fast start after the interval – with Dale at the forefront of it all.
Maguire and Dale Hopson combined in the 51st minute to pick out the unmarked Dale on the edge of the area, however, Dale was expertly denied by Stevens, who powerfully pushed the shot over.
But when Dale next had the opportunity to test Stevens, the goalkeeper was left helpless to Dale’s quality.
The winger won a free-kick on the edge of the 18-yard box. He then took the responsibility of the set piece to aim the free-kick into the top left corner. Inch perfect.
Despite the home side finding themselves 2-0 down, Tamworth could have easily earnt at least a point – or more – if it wasn’t for the brilliance of Jameson.
Firstly, in the 67th minute, Jameson reacted to produce a quick-fire double save before Kotwica volleyed onto the crossbar in what was Tamworth’s third denial by the bar.
Three minutes later, Jameson perhaps produced his greatest stop of the night when he stuck out his right arm to keep out substitute Bradley Reid from one-yard away.
Verma was left sick of the sight of Jameson as the keeper again made himself big to produce a fine reflex save in the 84th minute.
And if Jameson’s earlier saves – alongside the crossbar – hadn’t informed the hosts that it wasn’t to be their evening – Jameson’s final save of the evening on 86 minutes must have.
Jameson dived low to reach Darryl Knights’ shot that was destined for the bottom corner before rising to register another double save, although the offside flag was raised.
In the end, albeit some luck, Blyth absorbed the pressure and were able to grant Dale his hat-trick.
Macaulay Langstaff, fresh off the bench, fed in Dale on the counter-attack and with just the keeper to beat, made no mistake with a stinging finish.
There might have been a fourth in the final seconds but Green saw his effort beaten away by Stevens.
That’s now two consecutive 3-0 wins for Armstrong’s men, who are looking back to their frightening best.
Tamworth: Stevens, Burns, Sharpe, Kettle, Jones ©, Shaw, Powell (Reid, 63), Thomas (Kotwica 63), Asante (Taylor, 80), Verma, Knights
Subs not used: Stabana, Coulson
Blyth Spartans: Jameson, Liddle, Watson, Green, Buddle, Hutchinson, Rivers (Maguire, 82), Reid (Mullen, 77), Maguire, Hopson (Langstaff, 73), Dale (c)
Subs not used: Laidler, MacDonald
Spartans Man of the Match: Robbie Dale
Referee: Ms Amy Fearn