By Glen Maxwell
In association with:
ALAN McLEAN FCMA CGMA
Chartered Management Accountant
Buildbase FA Trophy Second Qualifying Round
Saturday November 12 2016
Blyth Spartans 4-3 Halesowen Town
Blyth Spartans finally progressed in a pulsating Buildbase FA Trophy tie against Halesowen Town – after they surrendered a two-goal lead before claiming a 4-3 win in the final minute.
Nathan Buddle and Daniel Maguire had given the hosts a first half lead, before Jay Denny reduced the deficit for Town on 56 minutes.
Substitute Ethan Delaney’s brace within two minutes put Halesowen ahead, before Blyth replacement Matty Pattison scored a bizarre equaliser on 82 minutes. Pattison then sent Croft Park into delirium in the 90th minute, when he smashed home from two-yards to finally kill off Blyth’s fellow Evo-Stik Premier League side.
A much changed Spartans side flew out of the traps and could easily have taken the lead within the first two minutes, thanks to a fortunate ricochet off Maguire.
The ball dropped perfectly for Jarrett Rivers, who raced towards goal and rounded Daniel Platt in the Halesowen net. Despite calmly rolled the ball past the keeper, the winger was denied an early goal thanks to Kyle Morrison’s timely intervention.
Rivers then turned provider less than a minute later, when he played an inch-perfect pass into Andrew Cartwright inside the area. The right-back then cut the ball back to Maguire, but he could only shoot straight at Platt.
The combination of Stephen Turnbull and Richard Pell at set-pieces terrorised Goole in the last round of the Buildbase FA Trophy and they threatened to produce a repeat after just six minutes – as the defender leapt highest to connect with the corner. However, Pell’s header just cleared the crossbar.
A clever dummy from Luke Armstrong on nine minutes allowed Maguire to race onto a lofted through ball from the Blyth defence. ‘Nipa’ looked to convert from a narrow angle but, despite looking anything but comfortable as the ball reached him, Platt did just enough to keep his clean sheet intact.
The opening exchanges had very much been in the home side’s favour, but a defensive mix-up gave the Croft Park faithful some unnecessary anxiety after 18 minutes.
Paul Woolston had advanced out of his area to meet Platt’s clearance but, under pressure from Kaiman Anderson, Buddle overhit a pass back past the Blyth keeper. Thankfully for the 23-year-old, it went wide of the goal and Rivers was able to deal with the cheap corner.
Buddle was back to his best within four minutes though – as he did just enough to put Anderson off in the box and the Halesowen striker scuffed his shot safely towards a grateful Woolston.
The centre-back was caught up in the action once again on 27 minutes, when he headed clear a dangerous cross from the left. However, the Halesowen players believed Pell had handled the ball just prior to the clearance, but referee Mr Andrews ignored their penalty shouts.
And Buddle would cause shouts of a different kind a little over two minutes later – as he finally put Blyth ahead.
Turnbull floated in a free-kick from halfway towards Pell and Buddle at the far post. The younger of the central defensive duo met the ball with a powerful header back across Platt and into the top corner.
Robert Dale must have sensed that Platt’s confidence had taken a knock, because he tried an audacious effort from halfway just three minutes later. The Town stopper breathed a sigh of relief though, when the strike failed to find its target.
Although, Platt would suffer more misery with six minutes of the first half to go – as Spartans made the most of the advantage of a foul on Damen Mullen to double their advantage.
Armstrong headed on Chris Bell’s ball towards Maguire, who manoevered his way around substitute Richard Sho-Silva like he wasn’t even there. The striker then twisted inside and out to tie the Halesowen defence up in knots, before finishing calmly between the keeper’s legs.
Dale came up with some dancing of his own on 45 minutes, which allowed him to try his luck from the edge of the box. Platt was much more alert this time, however, and it was a comfortable hold for the visiting keeper.
If both sides thought that was it before the break then they were wrong – as Spartans received a let-off in added time, when a Halesowen goal was ruled out.
Anderson had been found in the box by a knock-on 18 yards out. Asa Charlton stole the ball off his teammate’s toes from an offside position and slotted it past Woolston, but the assistant flagged straight away before the midfielder could celebrate.
Blyth had started the game strongly and they nearly grabbed a third by following in the same vein as the second half got underway. Great link-up between Rivers and Maguire saw the latter try to play in his strike partner Armstrong, but he got too much on it and Platt rushed out to gather.
With 54 minutes gone, Maguire played an exquisite diagonal ball across to Rivers in the box. The winger checked his run to sell Sho-Silva short, but his placed shot across Platt went just inches wide of the post.
That miss was then compounded when, two minutes later, Halesowen clawed their way back into the tie.
Woolston did well to punch clear a dangerous cross, but the ball went straight to Denny 25 yards out. With the on-loan Newcastle United keeper still on the floor from his clearance, the Halesowen captain finished well first-time into an empty net to halve the deficit.
Town took fresh impetus from that goal and could have been level with 63 minutes gone, when substitute Delaney beat Buddle to a dropping ball and it fell kindly for Anderson. The striker hit a fierce shot at goal, but fired just wide.
They were not to be denied though – as they drew level with a beautifully taken goal just 60 seconds later, showing the same resilience that had seen them record an impressive six wins in their last eight games.
Halesowen played the ball about at the edge of the Blyth area, before it ended up with Delaney just inside the box. He executed a fine curling finish around the outstretched hand of a diving Woolston to put the visitors level.
Parity would remain for just two minutes though, when Delaney claimed his second to put Halesowen ahead for the first time in the tie. The substitute caught Buddle cold and turned him inside and out, before rolling the ball past Woolston.
Spartans had received a real suckerpunch having seen their two-goal lead turn into a 3-2 reverse, but they were unlucky not to peg back the away side with 18 minutes to go. Maguire won a header at the back post that looked to be sneaking in, but it went just wide of the upright and into the side netting.
That looked to be all she wrote for the Spartans in this season’s Buildbase FA Trophy, but substitute Pattison had other ideas with a bizarre goal in the 82nd minute.
The South African picked the ball up a fair distance from goal, but opted to strike at goal from long-range. It looked to be a routine stop for Platt, but he was totally outfoxed by the flight of the ball and it somehow found the back of the net.
Halesowen continued to press forward despite their setback and really should have sealed the tie with four minutes to go, when Lee Chilton was found free just mere yards from goal. The winger hit the ball over the diving Blyth bodies at his feet, but it then went horribly over the bar.
Just when the tie appeared to be going to a replay on Tuesday night, Maguire raced down the left and cut the ball past Platt and across to Armstrong, who turned and held the ball up under immense pressure. Instead of trying to shoot on the turn, the 20-year-old left it for Pattison to smash home his second and secure safe passage for Spartans.
Blyth continue in cup competitions on Tuesday night, when they travel to Shaw Lane AFC in the Integro Doodson Cup.
Blyth Spartans: Woolston, Cartwright (Nicholson 82), Bell, Mullen, Pell, Buddle, Rivers (Richardson 73), Turnbull, Maguire, Armstrong, Dale (Pattison 72).
Subs not used:, Wade, Caines.
Halesowen Town: Platt, Haynes (Sho-Silva 12), Hancocks (Delaney 46), Denny, Morrison, Charlton, Goddard (Malvin 82), Bragoli, Anderson, Birley, Chilton.
Subs not used: Griffiths, Cameron.
Referee: Mr Andrews
Spartans Man of the Match: Daniel Maguire
Spartans Boss Armstrong “Flabbergasted” At Second Half Collapse Against Halesowen
Alun Armstrong was left “flabbergasted” at the final whistle on Saturday – after seeing his Blyth Spartans side squander a two-goal lead, before finally beating fellow Evo-Stik Premier League side Halesowen Town 4-3 in their Buildbase FA Trophy second qualifying round clash.
Nathan Buddle and Daniel Maguire had put the hosts ahead at half-time, but Halesowen hit back after the break and went ahead through captain Jay Denny and a brace from substitute Ethan Delaney just after the hour mark.
Matty Pattison came off the bench to pull Spartans back level with a fantastic goal with less than ten minutes to go, before smashing home from close range in the last minute to claim what was an astounding cup tie for Blyth and send them through to the next round of the competition.
The total see-saw nature of the game would have done nothing for the nerves of the Croft Park faithful and Armstrong admitted that he knew exactly how they felt by the finish.
He said: “I was just flabbergasted after the match, I really was. We were comfortable in the first half, totally dominant and I asked the lads to come out with the same intensity in the second half and carry on in the same way.
“All of a sudden, it just went flat after they threw two up front and really went for it. They went 3-5-2 and that should have released our wide players, but it never happened and our wide players started dropping too deep.
“It was poor and I had to change it, so that’s why I brought Patta [Pattison] and Michael [Richardson] on. That gave us a bit more impetus and, thankfully it worked wonders – as Patta scored two great goals.”
Despite the positive end to the game, the Blyth boss was still bewildered by how his side had let Halesowen back into the tie so easily – after they’d failed to really trouble the home goal in the first 45 – and he has called on his players to change their mentality when they go ahead in future.
Armstrong stated: “We should never have been in that position to begin with. The lads know that and we had a discussion after the game and went through everything.
“They know what they did wrong, we know what they did wrong and we can’t carry on having that same mentality of ‘right, this is how we see a game through’ and it’s not.
“We’re best when we’re getting at people and everyone knows that. We have some really good attacking players and, the minute we take our foot off the gas and play what I call ‘tippy-tappy’ football – knocking it backwards and sideways – that’s when we get caught.
“The sooner the lads switch onto that, the better.”
While his frustration at surrendering a two-goal lead to go 3-2 down was clear to see on the sidelines, Armstrong couldn’t help but praise the battling qualities of his Blyth side and he revealed that he always had faith in them to turn it around again.
The 41-year-old added: “The character they showed to come back was absolutely outstanding. I thought they did magnificently.
“I could hear people moaning and that from behind and I just thought ‘let the lads get on with it’. I had every faith in them.
“When we scored the equaliser, I told Hooksy [Neal Hooks] that we’d get another one because that’s what we’re like. We can go and kill teams off when it’s against us, but it’s when we’re in front that we struggle to work that out.
“To come back and win the game after going from 2-0 up to 3-2 down – scoring two goals in the last eight minutes – showed tremendous character and it proves that the lads want to move on and do well in this competition.”
Early into the second half – two minutes before Denny found the net for Town’s first, in fact – Jarrett Rivers wasted a glorious chance that would have extended Spartans’ lead to three goals and Armstrong believes that it’s moments like that which are subconsciously affecting the performances of his players.
Armstrong stated: “It’s game over if Jarrett takes that chance and it’s little things like that which are so crucial – as, if he scores, the lads know that they’ve done enough to win the game. It goes wide though and, all of a sudden, they’re thinking ‘oh no, we can see this turning’.
“That mentality has got to change, because we never started playing to our strengths after that until we equalised. Full credit to them though – as we had some tired legs out there, but they still worked hard to grab the winner and they fully deserved it.”
Armstrong took the decision to rest the likes of Ryan Hutchinson and Michael Liddle for Saturday’s game, while Pattison was dropped to the bench – after scoring both goals in Blyth’s 2-0 win over Barwell. The Spartans’ gaffer had planned to avoid using the South African midfielder, but felt he had no choice once he was facing Buildbase FA Trophy elimination.
Armstrong admitted: “Without a doubt, I felt that my hand was forced by putting Patta on. I spoke to him before the game and, even though he scored two great goals at Barwell last week, I told him that I didn’t want to use him unless I had to.
“I did, as it turned out, so I asked him to go out and do something for us and that’s exactly what he did.
“He’s got top top quality, but you have to use him sparingly. He’s got an unbelievable left foot and he’s already got a fair few goals this season, so he could get another 10 goals before the end of the season and I expect him to.
“I didn’t want to use him, but – unfortunately – I had to.”
Spartans now move onto another cup competition on Tuesday night – as they travel to Shaw Lane AFC for an Integro Doodson Cup meeting. Armstrong is expecting a difficult game against Whitby Town’s Buildbase FA Trophy conquerors and his cause isn’t helped by a few of his players being unavailable for the trip to the Evo-Stik Premier League Division One North side.
He said: “Some of the lads that were rested against Halesowen will be back for Shaw Lane, but there’s a few that can’t make it because of work and that. I’m going to have a look at them though and maybe try something different with them.
“It’s going to be a tough game. Shaw Lane are certainly no mugs – as they’re currently second in their league with games in hand and they beat Whitby 3-0 on Saturday.
“I’m expecting a hard game, but I’m really looking forward to it.”