By Stephen Burton
In association with:
ALAN McLEAN FCMA CGMA
Chartered Management Accountant
Vanarama National League North
Sunday, 2nd January 2022
BLYTH SPARTANS 2-1 GATESHEAD
Goals from JJ O’Donnell and Robbie Dale helped Blyth Spartans to their second win on the bounce in an action packed derby clash at Croft Park.
Paul Blackett gave Gateshead the lead on the quarter-hour as he fired home from point blank range.
O’Donnell levelled the scores three minutes later, before Dale fired in from the spot on 22 minutes to give Spartans the lead.
The game was overshadowed on the stroke of half-time as a member of the Gateshead support was taken ill and had to be stretchered from the ground.
Boss Terry Mitchell named an unchanged line-up as he looked to build on Blyth’s impressive 3-1 win against Spennymoor Town earlier in the week, in front of a bumper New Year crowd at Croft Park.
And it was Spartans who threatened early on, as Connor Thomson looked to push on from his man-of-the-match performance against Moors.
First he drove at the Gateshead defence before cutting in from the right and firing an effort inches wide of the far post, before heading narrowly over a couple of minutes later.
The visitors began to grow into the game and started to show some of the quality that has won them 7 straight league games.
A well worked move saw Blackett gain some space in the box but he could only fire over, however the former on-loan Spartans striker made no mistake two minutes later.
Blyth struggled to clear a cross and a wayward header found Blackett in acres of space, who hammered home a volley from six yards out.
Gateshead immediately went after a second and had Spartans stretched, with Blackett and Macauley Langstaff causing the defence serious problems.
Spartans struggled to get a foot on the ball in a hectic two minute spell, but as soon as they did they were level.
O’Donnell got on the ball in the centre of the park and ran at the Gateshead backline before playing in Karl Byrne who, after taking on his man with a sublime piece of skill, cut the ball back to O’Donnell to fire home.
A frantic derby was then turned on its head as Dan Maguire was tripped in the box, leaving it to none other than Dale to slot home the penalty.
Blyth were playing some fantastic football with Byrne causing Gateshead all sorts of problems down the right, the full back again found Thomson but he skewed his effort wide from eight yards.
The game had a brief pause five minutes before the interval due to a medical emergency in the away section, where a support had to be stretchered from the ground.
Thomson again found himself with a chance as he ran through on goal but was denied by a fine stop by Chapman.
Just a minute before the break Gateshead almost got an equaliser as Louis Storey came up from the back and found space in the box, but he pulled his effort wide.
Blyth enjoyed a decent opening the second-half with Nathan Buddle heading narrowly over, however from then on, Gateshead began to dominate
Jordan Hickey inadvertently headed at his own goal only to have his blushed spared by a smart save from Alex Mitchell.
Mitchell was again called into action to deny Cedwyn Scott, before Owen Bailey wasted a glorious chance from a corner.
The Gateshead fans thought they had an equaliser on the hour-mark through Storey, only for the linesman to cut their celebrations short.
Langstaff had another chance for the visitors on 70 minutes as he was played through on goal but Mitchell produced another brilliant stop to keep Blyth ahead.
In a rare attack Maguire had a long range strike spilled by Chapman, but Thomson couldn’t quite reach the rebound.
Some fantastic defending kept Gateshead at bay, but Scott was inches away from equalising as he diverted a cross inches wide.
Then hearts were in mouths as Blackett went down in the box in the vicinity of Mitchell, only for the referee to book the former on-loan Spartans striker for simulation.
Langstaff once more wasted two great chances in the last five minutes as Spartans desperately clung on to their lead.
Gateshead continued to press but Blyth held firm for the three points and their second win on the bounce.
Blyth Spartans | Mitchell, Liddle (Painter 66’), Buddle ©, Hickey, Maguire, O’Donnell, Dale (Reid 72’), Byrne (Watson 51’), Deverdics, Lees, Thomson Subs not used | Reid, McNall, Djalo
Goals | O’Donnell (18’), Dale (22’)
Gateshead | Chapman, Nicholson, Tinkler, Storey, Jacob, Hunter (Campbell 68’), Ward (Williams 26’), Bailey, Scott, Blackett, Langstaff Subs not used | Williamson, Wombwell
Goals | Blackett (15’)
Referee | Richard Aspinall
Attendance | 2,027