Northern Premier League 
20th September 2016, 7:45 PM
Frickley Athletic
1 - 0
Blyth Spartans
Westfield Lane Stadium
Attendance: 220

Match Report

By Glen Maxwell

In association with:
ALAN McLEAN FCMA CGMA
Chartered Management Accountant

Evo-Stik Premier League
Tuesday September 20 2016

Frickley Athletic 1-0 Blyth Spartans

A dominant display by Spartans ended in a disappointing defeat – as Frickley Athletic completed a smash-and-grab late on.

A much-changed Blyth side created a host of chances, but were made to rue their wastefulness in front of goal, when Rhys Meynell nodded in late on to claim all three points.

There was still time for Spartans to try and draw level in second half stoppage time, but Alex Nicholson blazed wide from an open goal – as the Evo-Stik Premier League’s bottom side claimed only their second win of the season.

Following their exit from this season’s FA Cup in the 2-4 defeat against Morpeth Town on Saturday, Tom Wade opted to make no less than six changes to the starting line-up – as Blyth returned to league action at Westfield Lane. Among those changes were Luke Armstrong and Jarrett Rivers – who were both brought in to make their first starts of the season on the left and right wing respectively – while Nathan Buddle was deployed in central midfield.

And Rivers looked eager to repay his manager’s faith straight away – as he jinked down the left with ease in the first minute, before playing the ball back to Sean Reid. Reid, in turn, fed Daniel Maguire in the box, but Blyth’s top scorer scuffed his shot under his foot and the chance was gone.

Rivers proved himself equally adaptable on the right two minutes later, when he whipped in a ball to the back post. His cross picked out Maguire perfectly, but his header couldn’t get past his marker.

Maguire then went on a fine individual run, evading two tackles on his travels. He laid the ball off to Armstrong, but the youngster was unable to get a shot away before Macaulay Parkinson cleared it for a corner.

Spartans had dominated in the first five minutes, but Frickley played their way back into the contest with two half chances within a minute.

Andrew Ofosu looked to get in behind from a great through ball from midfield, but was denied by Peter Jeffries – after the Spartans’ stopper rushed out to hoof the ball clear. Jeffries was alert again to thwart Athletic, when he readjusted himself well to claim Ofusu’s deflected cross under pressure from Luke Mangham.

With the game clock barely into double figures, Blyth went close once more. Stephen Turnbull found the head of Richard Pell at the back post, but the defender’s header went down into the ground and was gathered easily by Sebastian Malkowski.

Maguire – looking to reach double figures for the season himself – then lived up to his nickname, when he nipped in between Meynell and Sam Hanna in the heart of the Frickley defence. “Nipa” tried to lift the ball over Malkowski, but the goalkeeper was more than able to pluck it out of the air.

They’d not provided much in front of goal so far, but Frickley went close to opening the score in fortunate circumstances on the 15-minute mark.

A cross-cum-shot by Noel Burdett on the right floated around in the air and looked to be heading for the Blyth goal. Jeffries had to have his wits about him to keep it out, but keep it out he did.

Five minutes later, Athletic had another chance that could have easily gone in another time.

Burdett shot again and Richard Pell dropped his head to try and clear it, but failed to get as much on it as he’d have liked. The ball changed direction to Jeffries’ surprise, but went harmlessly behind for just a corner.

Jeffries had kept everything out that was thrown at him up until this point, but nearly had a helping hand in putting his side ahead.

Both Reid and Maguire were the only two players to react to the keeper’s long clearance, with the latter picking the ball up. Maguire tried to square the ball to Reid inside the box for an easy tap-in, but he placed it too near to Malkowski and the former Polish international was able to get down to thwart them.

A Frickley clearance on the half-hour mark was picked up by Armstrong some 30 yards out. The winger – looking to double his tally for the season – struck a fierce drive at goal that asked questions of Malkowski, but the Frickley stopper rushed to get behind it and just kept it out.

Rivers had been problematic for the side’s full-backs all evening and nearly produced another moment of magic to break the deadlock, with time running out in the first half. Cutting inside from the right, he curled a beautiful ball beyond Malkowski but it went agonisingly wide of the far post.

There was still time for Blyth to create a few more chances to try and go in ahead, when Turnbull put another corner into the Athletic area.

The ball dropped kindly for Reid to strike, but his shot was blocked yards out from goal. Buddle reacted quickest to the rebound and struck another effort at goal, but – again – the home side’s defence were able to get a body in the way.

In the half’s last piece of action, Buddle – playing in central midfield instead of his usual centre-back position – played a wonderful through ball to put Reid in. However, with August’s Port of Blyth Player of the Month poised to pull the trigger, Meynell expertly took the ball of his toes to deny him a chance at goal.

The second half started at break-neck speed and the fast-paced action resulted in chances at both ends.

First, Burdett advanced into the Blyth area, but was denied by a fantastic challenge from Ryan Hutchinson. The Frickley fans appealed for a penalty while the forward fell to the floor, but referee Matt Sowerby was not to be fooled.

Blyth broke quickly from the fallout of that challenge and the ball ended up with Maguire on the left – after he turned Gary Stohrer inside and out. The prolific striker unleashed a rocket that flew past Malkowski, but it clattered down clear of the line off the underside of the bar.

Armstrong went close again in the 56th minute, when Rivers picked him out at the near post from the right. The 20-year-old tried to guide the ball in on the volley, but he could only send the ball wide.

A fortunate block by substitute Nathan Curtis played in strike-partner Burdett, who was alive to the loose ball among the Blyth backline. Luckily, for the visitors, Jeffries was on hand to quell the danger from his shot.

Chances were starting to come thick and fast, but Spartans were left frustrated when an instinctive save from the Frickley goalkeeper denied them a certain goal. Maguire’s cutback from the byline appeared to have been turned in by Reid, but Malkowski managed to maintain his clean sheet with a brilliant save from point-blank range.

After replacing Armstrong, substitute Matty Pattison seemed keen to prove Tom Wade wrong from starting him on the bench and was the next Blyth player to try his luck at goal with less than 20 minutes to go.

Following good work on the right, the former South Africa international cut inside and fired the ball across goal. With the ball destined for the top corner, a defensive header was all that denied Pattison his fifth goal of the season.

Spartans appeared to be in trouble when substitute Curtis went down on the edge of the box following Hutchinson’s challenge. However, the referee gave the decision in favour of Blyth and booked Curtis for simulation.

With six minutes left, Blyth’s hearts were in their mouths once more when Frickley had another shout for a penalty. Burdett went down in the area following a challenge by Jeffries, but Sowerby opted against signalling for a spot kick.

Frickley had stepped it up during the game’s final moments and their efforts were rewarded from a set-piece.

Captain Meynell met a corner at the near post with four minutes to go and made no mistake with his header – as it snuck past Jeffries and into the net.

Spartans piled forward to try and restore parity, but were left with their heads in their hands once again in added time.

Buddle volleyed at goal from a cross on the left, which Malkowski was able to get a hand on. The ball parried back out to substitute Nicholson, but he missed an open net when the goal was at his mercy – as he summed up the away side’s disappointing night in Yorkshire, which ended in ugly scenes as both sides made their way towards the tunnel.

Blyth are on the road again on Saturday, when they make the long trip to Corby Town and Tom Wade will be desperate to see his side return to winning ways.

Frickley Athletic: Malkowski, Stohrer, Parkinson, Hinsley, Hanna, Meynell, Rigby (Guest 62), Valentine, Burdett, Ofosu (Curtis 54), Mangham.
Subs not used: Akeroyd, Grant, Diggles.

Blyth Spartans: Jeffries, Cartwright (Nicholson 88), Liddle, Pell, Hutchinson, Turnbull, Armstrong (Pattison 65), Buddle, Maguire, Reid (Richardson 79), Rivers.
Subs not used: Nicholson, Parker, Bell.

Referee: Matt Sowerby

Attendance: 220

Spartans Man of the Match: Jarrett Rivers

Spartans’ Assistant Hooks Frustrated By Frickley Reverse

Neal Hooks was left bemoaning Blyth Spartans’ lack of luck in front of goal – after their frustrating 1-0 defeat at Frickley Athletic on Tuesday.

Tom Wade’s much-changed side looked set to right the wrongs of their Emirates FA Cup defeat to FA Vase holders Morpeth Town on Saturday with a much-improved performance at Westfield Lane.

Daniel Maguire smashed a shot off the crossbar and Sean Reid was only denied by Sebastien Malkowski’s instinctive stop, but it was the home side that were all smiles at full-time – after captain Rhys Meynell nodded home in the 86th minute to stun Spartans in their Evo-Stik Premier League clash.

And Blyth’s assistant manager couldn’t help but curse his side’s luck, but he was encouraged with the way they played despite the defeat.

Hooks said: “It’s fair to say that it was a smash-and-grab for them. We were very unfortunate and anyone watching the game could see that we had about 15 or 16 chances but the ball just wouldn’t fall.

“We’ve hit the bar, the keeper’s managed to pull off a great save from three yards from Sean Reid and Alex has had a great chance at the end, but we just didn’t get any sort of luck tonight.

“Our performance was great, the lads were brilliant and our work-rate was there. It was a massive turnaround from the Morpeth defeat and, sometimes, you just need that little bit of luck.

“We didn’t get it and then we got suckerpunched at the end.”

Even though Blyth were unable to get back to winning ways in West Yorkshire, Hooks has seen enough of a response from the Spartans squad to suggest that they can claim all three points at Corby Town on Saturday.

Hooks said: “It was hard to watch them celebrate the winner so late on. It’ll have affected the lads psychologically, but there’s a lot of positives to take out of our performance.

“I think any Spartans fan or committee member in the ground watching would have seen that we were the better side and were very unfortunate not to come away with the three points. That’s football though and it knows how to kick you when you’re down.

“We’re back on the road on Saturday at Corby though so, hopefully,  we can turn it around and work on those positives from Tuesday night. Other results didn’t go our way either, so getting back to the top of the table gives us something to aim for now.”

The Blyth management team opted to make six changes to the side that was knocked out of this season’s Emirates FA Cup; with Luke Armstrong, Jarrett Rivers, Peter Jeffries and Nathan Buddle among those named in the starting line-up. And Hooks had nothing but praise for all of the players that featured at Frickley, in spite of their late loss.

He added: “It was nice to see Luke get a run out. He looked very positive when he came on against Morpeth and I thought he was excellent in his first start.

“Jarrett obviously came back from injury. I’ve heard rumours that he’s off to Darlington, but that’s simply not true.

“He’d declared himself unfit for the few weeks, but said he was fine before the game. We put him in to get a run out as well and he was excellent.

“I don’t think anyone didn’t perform out there. I thought all of the lads were brilliant.”

Lineup

Name GLS AST PENS OG CS RAT Cards

Subs

Name GLS AST PENS OG CS RAT Cards
Matty Pattison ← Luke Armstrong
Michael Richardson ← Sean Reid
Alex Nicholson ← Andrew Cartwright