By Glen Maxwell
In association with:
ALAN McLEAN FCMA CGMA
Chartered Management Accountant
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League
Tuesday August 16 2016
Marine 1-0 Blyth Spartans
Blyth Spartans suffered their first defeat of the new Evo-Stik Premier Division season – as Daniel Mitchley scored late on to secure the points for Marine with a 1-0 win.
The away side had enjoyed the better of the first half, with Robert Dale, Daniel Maguire and Sean Reid all going close to opening the scoring for Spartans.
However, their lack of a breakthrough would come back to haunt them when Mitchley poked the ball home in the 82nd minute, to score the only goal of the game and claim the spoils for the Mariners.
Marine were quick out of the traps and could have opened the scoring within the first 60 seconds. Goalkeeper Calvin Hare’s boot upfield nearly played in Mitchley, but Peter Jeffries was quick to snuff out the danger by smothering the ball at the feet of the attacker.
Spartans then came close to breaking the deadlock just two minutes later. Stephen Turnbull found Nathan Buddle at the back post from a corner, but the defender could only glance his header wide under pressure.
Blyth’s next chance would also come from a Turnbull corner. The set-piece was cleared only as far as captain Dale on the edge of the area, but he could only watch as his thunderbolt strike took a deflection behind.
Dale went close again soon after, having turned Lewis Field inside and out to create an opening on the left. The talismanic winger tried to curl a shot around Hare and inside the far post, but a header on the line diverted the ball behind.
Marine striker Mitchley then looked to have been played in one-on-one, but a late offside flag took the sting out of the Mariner’s attack.
After scoring an audacious long-range lob against Heaton Stannington last season, Michael Richardson can certainly be afforded the chance to try and repeat it. However, despite finding Hare off his line, the midfielder was unable to keep his attempt on target this time.
Marine really should have taken the lead on the half-hour mark – after Craig Lindfield played in Joe Mwasile on the left. The winger went round two Spartans defenders and tried to blast the ball past the onrushing Jeffries, but Blyth’s goalkeeper got just enough of a touch on the ball to deflect the fierce shot onto the crossbar.
That gilt-edge chance was followed by another down the other end six minutes later.
Richardson – who had received a yellow card moments earlier – picked out a free Maguire in the box. The Blyth number nine had the goal at his mercy and headed the ball down to try and put it past Hare, but the keeper was able to just keep it out with a foot.
Blyth upped their intensity to try and score as the half-time whistle drew near and their efforts nearly paid dividends a minute before the break.
A quality ball through from Matty Pattison released Maguire down the left. He fizzed a ball across goal looking to pick out Reid, who could only get a slight touch on the ball when anything more would have surely saw him score his second goal of the season.
Just as they had in the first half, Marine made a quick start following the restart and looked threatening when they won a corner five minutes into the second half.
Jeffries was able to stay strong to grasp the ball out of the air, but – worryingly for Blyth – was caught by a Marine player in the air. The Spartans stopper received treatment from the physio, but was able to stay on.
It took over 20 minutes for the second half to spring into life, but Marine nearly made up for lost time in fortunate circumstances.
Ryan O’Hare struck from outside the box, but the ball was deflected and appeared to be trickling wide. Mitchley gave chase on the left and managed to get a shot away from a tight angle, but could only find the side netting.
Marine’s O’Hare then fouled Turnbull, who had been looking to break. Be it for that foul or kicking the ball away in frustration, the Marine midfielder ended up in referee Richard Holmes’ book either way.
O’Hare was in the heart of the action three minutes later – as his corner found a leaping Billy Smart on the penalty spot, but Smart’s header went well over the Blyth goal.
Another Marine chance came 15 minutes before the end, when Mwasile won a free-kick on the left. Lindfield stepped up to take it, but his cross/shot was met by Jeffries at the near post.
Spartans had waited for a long while for a chance at this point and, when it came, it left them with their head in their hands once more. Turnbull’s corner was drilled across the face of the goal and was begging for a touch from a teammate, but Marine were just able to clear it away.
There was more frustration to follow for Tom Wade’s men – as Marine’s second half dominance finally paid off with less than ten minutes to go.
A fantastic ball from the right allowed Mitchley to get in behind Andrew Cartwright and, with Jeffries advancing to block the shot, the Marine striker stabbed the ball between the keeper’s legs and into the net.
Mitchley nearly doubled his tally four minutes later, with his last action before being taken off for Chad Whyte. Reacting quickest to a cross, Marine’s goalscorer guided a header just wide of the post, to the despair of the home fans who thought it had gone in.
To lose after being on top for nearly all of the first half will be desperately disappointing for Spartans, but they will have to dust themselves down and pick themselves up quickly – as they make the long trip to Halesowen Town on Saturday.
Marine: Hare, Field, Short, Goulding, O’Hare (Myler 76), Brizell, Davies, Smart (Hughes 76), Mitchley (Whyte 86), Lindfield, Mwasile.
Subs not used: Willis, Bellew.
Blyth Spartans: Jeffries, Cartwright, Liddle, Buddle, Hutchinson, Turnbull, Richardson (Rivers 82), Pattison (Wade 75), Maguire, Reid, Dale (Armstrong 86).
Subs not used: Parker, Caines.
Spartans Man of the Match: Sean Reid
Assistant Hooks Disappointed By Spartans’ Loss at Marine
New assistant manager Neal Hooks suffered a baptism of fire on the Blyth Spartans bench, following the “disappointing” 1-0 defeat at Marine.
Hooks had missed the opening day 3-1 win over Coalville Town as he was on his stag do, but there was to be no repeat of the weekend’s celebrations on Tuesday night – as Daniel Mitchley’s late goal saw Spartans leave The Arriva Stadium empty handed.
Blyth had started the game brightly with a dominant first half display, but Hooks was frustrated to see the visitors lose their way in the second 45 – as Marine took control and, ultimately, claimed a victory.
Hooks said: “It was a bit disappointing really. I thought we were in control, kept a hold of the ball and moved it around very well.
“Second half, we started a little slow and ended up on the back foot. That’s when we then started playing Marine football and not the type of football we pride ourselves on.
“We lashed the ball long, which turned the game into a bit of a scrap and that’s disappointing.”
Spartans had a number of good chances to go ahead before the break through Robert Dale, Daniel Maguire and Sean Reid, but all three were denied by some last-ditch Marine defending – leaving Hooks and the rest of the Spartans backroom staff “frustrated” on the sidelines.
“We had a couple of great chances, but we didn’t take them and I just thought it wasn’t going to be our night from then on.
“It looked like the game was going to fizzle out into a goalless draw, but we made one little mistake and it cost us. We didn’t get back into the game after that and we allowed them to build even more momentum towards the end.
“We’ve got to forget about this now though and set ourselves up to go again on Saturday.”
Following Mitchley’s goal, Spartans defenders Nathan Buddle and Andrew Cartwright exchanged heated words in the goalmouth that ended when right-back Cartwright forcefully pushed his teammate away. Hooks revealed the incident had been addressed in the dressing room, but believes that it just shows both players’ passion for the club.
Hooks said: “It summed up the frustration of the squad really. It’s shows that the lads really care and I don’t necessarily think that’s a negative in my eyes.
“They want to win, but it’s alright between the lads and there’s no bad blood or whatever, so we don’t need to dwell on something like that for too long.”
A miserable night on Merseyside was compounded when goalkeeper Peter Jeffries was caught late when catching the ball from a corner just after half-time and was visibly struggling for the rest of the second half. Typically, Spartans had not named a substitute goalkeeper on the bench, which caused a fair bit of concern for Tom Wade’s new assistant.
Hooks said: “It was a bit of worry when Peter looked to be struggling. We sent Chris [Bell, Blyth’s physio] round and he said he was able to get through the game.
“We were concerned about it, but there wasn’t really much we could do. We decided to go with more attacking options and put Jarrett [Rivers] on the bench to try and get some minutes out of him.
“Considering we went most of last season with a sub keeper on the bench and never had any issues, it’s quite unfortunate.
“However, we’ll see how Peter is at training on Thursday and see if he’s able to play at the weekend. If not, we have Adam McHugh who is fresh and ready to go.”