By Stephen Burton
In association with:
ALAN McLEAN FCMA CGMA
Chartered Management Accountant
National League North
Saturday, December 11th 2021
BLYTH SPARTANS 1-2 SOUTHPORT
Terry Mitchell’s first home match in charge ended in defeat, as Southport came from behind to snatch all three points at a rain-soaked Croft Park.
Michael Liddle fired Blyth ahead with a sweetly struck volley five minutes before the break.
Southport turned the game round with two goals in two minutes from Niall Watson and Marcus Carver, following almost identical goalmouth scrambles.
Robbie Dale came on as substitute mid-way through the second-half, to make his 700th appearance for the club.
For his first home match in charge, Terry Mitchell made three changes from the side that lost away to Fylde last weekend, with Dan Maguire, Jordan Hickey and Liddle returning to the starting line-up.
Southport threatened within the first two minutes as Conor Woods intercepted a poor clearance from Alex Mitchell and let fly from the edge of the box, but the Spartans keeper quickly made amends with a fine save.
Within a couple of minutes Blyth had a glorious chance as Nicky Deverdics found himself in on goal after excellent work from Michael Liddle, but the midfielder pulled his shot inches wide.
Connor Thomson went close on the quarter hour mark with a curling effort from the edge of the box that was well tipped wide by Cameron Mason.
The visitors looked content to try and hit Blyth on the break, however they struggled to find the final ball as they twice stretched the Spartans defence.
Just before half-time Spartans finally got the breakthrough their dominance deserved and it came from an unlikely source.
A corner from Deverdics was cleared to the edge of the box towards the waiting Liddle, before the full-back smashed a low volley through several bodies. Initially there was some confusion as to whether the ball crossed the line, but he linesman’s waving flag sparked jubilation amongst the home support.
Just after the interval all eyes were on the linesman once more as Southport thought they had an equaliser.
Doug Thame clattered a header off the bar, before bouncing back into the area and, via a couple of deflections, into the arms of Mitchell.
The visitors were adamant the ball had crossed the line but, thankfully for Blyth, the officials were unmoved.
The setback seemed to spur Southport on as they began to put the Spartans back four under serious pressure, but they were unable to create anything clear cut.
In almost a reversal of the first half it was Blyth who looked for success on the break, with Dan Maguire’s tireless running causing Southport problems.
The striker went close to getting his first goal since re-joining the club, after a fine run his low drive was well saved by Mason.
On the 70 minute mark however, Southport scrambled in an equaliser. Mitchell could only parry an in-swinging corner, Blyth through bodies on the line but Watson found the narrowest of gaps to stab the ball home.
Then just a minute later the visitors had turned the game on its head, in almost identical circumstances. Another corner floated on top of the Blyth keeper caused mayhem in the box before it was hit home by Carver.
Within a few seconds of the kick-off Thomson almost put Spartans back level after being played through by Maguire, however he pulled his shot wide of the far post.
Spartans pushed hard for a winner in the final 10 minutes as they peppered the Southport goal with several crosses and shots, but the visitors held firm.
Blyth aren’t back in action until after Christmas when they travel to Gateshead on Boxing Day.
Blyth Spartans | Mitchell, Liddle, Reid (Dale 65’), Buddle ©, Hickey, Maguire, O’Donnell, Byrne, Deverdics, Lees, Thomson (Djalo 78’) Subs not used | Watson, McKeown, Cunningham
Goals | Liddle 40’
Southport | Mason, Oliver, Doyle (Vassallo 56’), Anson ©, Tharme, Woods (Archer 62’), Carver, Buckley-Ricketts, Hmami, Watson, Bainbridge Subs not used | Benjamin, Munro, McMillan
Goals | Watson 71’, Carver 72’
Referee | Simeon Lewis
Attendance | 641