By Stephen Burton
In association with:
ALAN McLEAN FCMA CGMA
Chartered Management Accountant
Vanarama National League North
Saturday, August 20th 2022
BLYTH SPARTANS 2-0 GLOUCESTER CITY
Graham Fenton’s first home match as manager ended in victory as goals from Lewis McNall and Jordan Hickey secured Blyth Spartans all three points.
LMcNall put Blyth ahead on the hour after Corey McKeown capitalised on a defensive mix-up, then Hickey made certain of the three points as he drilled an effort home in added time.
Fenton made four changes from the side that drew 1-1 with Chorley in midweek, with Alex Nicholson, Nicky Deverdics, McNall and Josh Gillies, who made his first start for Blyth since suffering a serious knee injury on the opening day of last season.
Blyth started brightly and enjoyed plenty of the ball in the opening exchanges, but struggled to create anything clear cut. The best they managed was a great opening for Liddle on the left wing but his cross was horribly miscued with McNall waiting in the middle.
On 10 minutes, Gillies almost made it fairy-tale comeback on his first start in almost a year as his dangerous free-kick was scrambled off the line, before Michael Richardson fired a volley narrowly over the bar.
The visitors went closed on 18 minutes as Tre Mitford looked to have a clear sight of goal a few yards out but was denied by an important touch by Alex Nicholson.
Gloucester began to settle into things and Jack James was inches from putting the Tigers ahead as he met a cross with a fantastic volley that curled inches wide of the far post.
Both sides struggled to create anything as the pace settled down, however the visitors threatened once more as Matt McClure found space on the right and whipped a dangerous cross that just evaded the onrushing Mitford.
Blyth had a great chance to go ahead through Richardson after JJ O’Donnell did brilliantly to dig out a cross on the left, but the former Hebburn man couldn’t keep his strike down.
This seemed to spur the home side on, as Liddle went close with a deft chip that was headed off the line, before successive corners saw Nathan Buddle and Toby Lees see headers well blocked.
Spartans should’ve went ahead two minutes before the break as Deverdics forced a fine save from Brandon Hall, before Richardson smashed the ball off the upright from close range, then Liddle’s follow up was blocked before another shot flew harmlessly over.
It was a bitty start to the second-half with a number of stoppages, with JJ O’Donnell receiving lengthy treatment after a strong challenge from Kennedy Digie.
But from nothing Spartans had possibly their clearest chance of the game as Corey McKeown was played through on goal, but his effort was well blocked by Hall.
Spartans took the lead after a defensive mix-up between Hall and Digie allowed McKeown to get in behind to square the ball to McNall who made no mistake from six yards.
Richardson had a great chance to double the lead after O’Donnell played him through on the right but he seemed to be caught in two minds and fizzed his effort across goal.
Gloucester almost had a chance at an equaliser after a defence-splitting pass looked to have played in Kieran Phillips but Alex Mitchell was quick to react to nip in ahead of the striker.
The visitors enjoyed plenty of the all in the final few minutes as they looked for an equaliser but struggled to get past a stubborn Spartans defence.
Blyth looked to hit on the break and that’s exactly what they did two minutes into added time, the ball broke to Hickey on the edge of the box, he drove past his man and slotted the ball into the bottom corner to seal the win.
Blyth Spartans | Mitchell, Liddle, Buddle, Lees (Elsdon 73’), Richardson, McNall (Fishburn 81’), O’Donnell, McKeown, Gillies (Hickey 62’), Deverdics Subs not used | Hickey, Fishburn, Dopson, Cornish
Goals | McNall 60’, Hickey 90’+2
Gloucester | Hall, Leadbitter (Egan 30’ [Phillips 70’]), Morgan, Digie, Dawson ©, O’Sullivan, Tomlinson, Evans, James, Mitford (King 84’), McClure Subs not used | Armstrong, Derrick, King
Referee | James Westgate
Attendance | 715