By Stephen Burton
In association with:
ALAN McLEAN FCMA CGMA
Chartered Management Accountant
National League North
26th December 2019
Gateshead 2-3 Blyth Spartans
Robbie Dale’s spectacular late volley earned Blyth Spartans all three points and saw them move within four points of safety in a hard-fought derby win at Gateshead International Stadium.
Cal Roberts opened the scoring with a fantastic solo goal on 16 minutes, then Greg Olley responded for Gateshead 10 minutes later.
Karl Thackray then fired Spartans ahead just after the half-hour mark after a well worked corner, before former Spartan Conor Oliver scored from the spot two minutes after the interval.
But Dale produced a moment of magic on 85 minutes as he unleashed a thunderous volley into the top corner to seal a much needed three points.
Manager Lee Clark, who was watching from the stands due to a one-match suspension, named two changes to the side at that lost to Southport, with Adam Wrightson returning to the bench after injury.
After a quiet opening 10 minutes, Heed captain Greg Olley got the better of Sanders but his effort was well saved by Hemming at his near post.
But it was Spartans who struck first with their first chance of the game when Roberts picked the ball up in the centre of the park and ran at the Gateshead defence, leaving Williamson for dead and slotting past Jameson.
Gateshead responded well and Josh Kayode stung the palms of Hemming just two minutes later with a fine strike and looked the more threatening before finally going ahead.
Preston weaved his way through the Blyth defence before unleashing an effort at goal from the edge of the area, Hemming could not keep hold of the shot and Olley pounced on the rebound.
The hosts continued to control the game but struggled to seriously test Hemming before Spartans struck again; this time from a well worked set piece. A short corner found its way to Hawkins on the edge of the box, the midfielder then cut the defence open with an excellent ball to find Thackray who beat James at his near post.
The remainder of the half saw Gateshead dominate and they wasted two excellent opportunities to pull level. First, Kayode powered a header just wide from a corner, before the striker teed up the impressive Preston, but he fired wide from the edge of the box when he should have hit the target.
The hosts continued in the same vein after the interval and got their reward when Oliver converted from 12 yards after Sanders brought down Kayode in the box.
Gateshead then should have went ahead on the hour mark after a surging run from Preston whose effort was well saved by Hemming.
Spartans main outlet was Roberts, who, on 70 minutes, did well to break away from the Gateshead defence before being felled by Williamson with a full blooded challenge on the edge of the box. Roberts fired the resultant free-kick wide and then Spartans hopes took a blow as the winger, still feeling the effects of the challenge, had to be taken off two minutes later.
Once more Gateshead dominated and were denied by two pieces of fantastic defending; first Dale produced and excellent tackle to deny Preston from baring down on goal, then Sanders superbly denied Kayode from just two yards in the final 10 minutes.
Olley then wasted a fantastic chance to put his side in front, again with Preston involved, the Heed captain found himself one-on-one with Hemming only for the Blyth stopper to produce another fine save.
But then it was time for Dale to produce a his match-winning strike. Dylan McGlade floated in a deep free-kick that was headed clear, only for the ball to find it’s way to Dale in the right-hand side of the box. The Spartans skipper then unleashed a fantastic volley that left James with no chance.
Spartans had everyone back in the closing minutes, and aside from a heart-stopping moment when JJ O’Donnell fired over from a couple of yards, kept the hosts at bay and hung on for a priceless three points.
Gateshead: James, Nicholson, Forbes, Oliver (Deverdics 63’), Cooper, Williamson, Preston, Agnew, Kayode, Olley ©, O’Donnell (Tear 90’). Unused subs: Guthrie, Barrow, Nelson
Goals: Olley (25’), Oliver (pen, 47’)
Blyth Spartans: Hemming, Evans (Scott 63’), Hutchinson, Mullen, Sanders, Thackray, Hawkins, Hunter, Sweet (Wrightson 73’), Roberts (McGlade 76’), Dale ©. Unused subs: Devitt, Ritson
Goals: Roberts (16’), Thackray (31’), Dale (85’)
Referee: James Westgate
Attendance: 1,390 (213 away)