By Stephen Burton
In association with:
ALAN McLEAN FCMA CGMA
Chartered Management Accountant
Vanarama National League North
Saturday, 15th January 2022
BLYTH SPARTANS – GLOUCESTER CITY
Goals from JJ O’Donnell and Connor Thomson secured Blyth Spartans a hard fought three points at home to Gloucester City.
O’Donnell struck his 11th goal of the season on 15 minutes, before Thomson fired in 10 minutes from time to seal the points.
Spartans boss Terry Mitchell made four changes from the side that were defeated 3-2 by Curzon Ashton last weekend, with Rhys Evans, Michael Liddle, Robbie Dale and Nicky Deverdics coming into the starting line-up.
In an even opening ten minutes, Alex Mitchell was the first goalkeeper tested as he saved a speculative long range effort from Gloucester captain Kevin Dawson.
Mitchell was then called into action again a few moments later as he raced out of his area to intercept a through ball, just ahead of the onrushing forward Dejon Noel-Williams.
The visitors were growing into the game as Oliver Hulbert flashed an effort just wide of the far post.
Blyth produced a flurry of crosses into the box, with O’Donnell twice finding space but unable to get enough contact to direct the ball goalward.
However it proved third time lucky for the Spartans number 10 on the quarter hour. Deverdics delivered an excellent deep cross from the left and O’Donnell made no mistake from eight yards.
Blyth had the better of the game as the half wore on, but struggled to create anything clear cut, until the half hour, when a Deverdics corner broke to Liddle on the edge of the box, but the full-back could only fire over on his weaker foot.
Gloucester went did go close five minutes before the break as Noel-Williams stretched to connect to a dangerous low cross only to be beaten to it by some excellent defending by Toby Lees.
However no sooner had Spartans cleared their lines, Tommy O’Sullivan fired an excellent low volley at goal that looked to be heading for the bottom corner, only for his teammate Dawson to direct the ball straight into the arms of a grateful Mitchell.
The chance spurred the visitors on, and Danny King pulled an effort wide of goal, again with Noel-Williams lurking.
Blyth responded themselves and Dale had snapshot from the edge of the area go narrowly wide, before O’Donnell flicked a Deverdics corner inches over the bar.
It was Gloucester who started the brighter in the second-half as they kept Blyth pinned back, but they were restricted to long range efforts from King and O’Sullivan.
Spartans initially struggled to get their foot on the ball but almost got a second as Deverdics stole the ball in midfield and played in Thomson, but the forward’s tame effort was easily saved by Jake Cole.
On the hour mark Blyth had Mitchell to thank for keeping the scores level as he produced a brilliant stop to deny Noel-Williams as he found space in the box.
The game then had a brief stoppage in strange circumstances as the Gloucester skipper Dawson took particular exception to the awarding of a throw-in for Spartans, and had to be restrained by a number of teammates.
Much to the home fan’s dismay the midfielder received no punishment, but from the incident, the second-half burst into life.
Thomson again went close when played through by Dale but Cole was equal to his low shot, before Gloucester were soon up the other end where King forced Mitchell into another stunning stop.
The visitors continued to press as they started to show the quality that’s seem them go unbeaten in their last five games, with Spartans struggling to keep possession.
A piece of heroic defending from Jordan Hickey denied Noel-Williams, as the Blyth midfielder stood tall to block a fierce effort at goal that flew inches past the post.
As it looked like the hosts would be hanging on for dear life, substitute Lewis McNall was played in on the left and his low cross was diverted home on the stretch by Thomson.
Moments later he could’ve got a second but curled his effort inches wide of the far post, after more good work from McNall.
Blyth held firm in the final 10 minutes to hold onto the clean sheet, with the three points taking them above today’s opponents into 17th place in National League North.
Blyth Spartans | Mitchell, Evans, Liddle, Buddle ©, Hickey, Maguire (McNall 73’), O’Donnell, Dale, Deverdics, Lees, Thomson (Djalo 90’) Subs not used | Reid, Watson, McKeown
Goals | O’Donnell (15’), Thomson (80’)
Gloucester City | Cole, Leadbitter, Gerring, Nugent, Dawson ©, O’Sullivan, Robert, Mensah, Hulbert, Noel-Williams, King Subs not used | Armstrong, Thompson, Sheaf, Tomlinson, Jeremiah
Referee | Ben Wyatt
Attendance | 743