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Emirates FA Cup Second Qualifying Round
Tuesday, September 21st 2021
FC UNITED OF MANCHESTER 0-2 BLYTH SPARTANS
Blyth Spartans put in a near-perfect away performance as Connor Thomson’s double helped them to a 2-0 win at FC United of Manchester.
The forward grabbed a goal in each half as his side took the honours at Broadhurst Park and set up a trip to National League North rivals Guiseley in the third qualifying round.
The hosts made most of the early running without ever really testing Alex Mitchell – and their inability to create anything meaningful was punished on 12 minutes as Spartans took the lead.
Moments after wasting a first sight of goal by hesitating to get a shot away, Connor Thomson gave his the perfect start to a severe test at Broadhurst Park.
The goal offered so much to the anticipation and drive of Corey McKeown as he seized on an attempt to take a quick corner-kick by the Rebels.
The youngster raced over the halfway line before keeping his composure to find Thomson and the forward made no mistake with a low drive that nestled inside Dan Lavercombe’s near post.
A second goal almost followed six minutes later as Thomson and McKeown combined once again as the latter got on a cross before forcing an awkward stop from a combination of Lavercombe and defender Drew Baker.
Slowly, but surely, FC United began to get into the stride that had seen them impress at Croft Park in the first meeting of the two sides on Saturday.
Brad Holmes forced Spartans keeper Alex Mitchell into his first meaningful action as the midway point of the half passed with a firm palm away after the striker had fired at goal from the edge of the area.
Although both sides looked composed on the attack, defensively they were some nervy moments and both managers would have had their hearts in their mouths as the half-hour approached.
Spartans were the first to experience a real let-off as a static defence allowed Ali Waddecar to head against the far post and an offside flag denied Cedric Main as he looked to pounce on the rebound.
Moments later, a weak backpass allowed Spartans captain JJ O’Donnell to get a shot away but his effort, and a rebound from the lively McKeown were blocked by some desperate defending from the hosts.
The closing ten minutes of the half failed to create any chances of note with the hosts struggling to perfect their final pass after getting into a number of threatening positions.
But as the two managers made their way towards the dressing rooms, there can be no doubt that Michael Nelson was the happier after a professional opening 45 minutes from Spartans.
The second-half followed a similar pattern to the opening 45 minutes as the hosts continued to dominated possession without ever really threatening Mitchell’s goal.
Chances were few and far between but the disciplined defending of the likes of Jordan Watson, Toby Lees and Michael Liddle saw any dangerous situations quickly smothered.
After seeing off the early pressure, Spartans created a wonderful chance to grab their second goal of the night as McKeown raced free but saw his shot saved by the legs of Lavercombe.
Just as they had in the first-half, Nelson’s men made the most of a slight let-off after Holmes headed agonisingly wide from a corner-kick from the right.
Less than 60 seconds after that chance, a fine challenge and pass from substitute Rhys Evans saw the full-back find Thomson.
With confidence flowing after his first goal, the forward raced beyond a weak challenge before crashing a shot beyond Lavercombe and into his net via the crossbar.
Youngster McKeown could and should have added a third just moments later as he once again broke in behind a static FC United defence.
The attacking midfielder took his time and opted for a delicate chip over the keeper – but Lavercambe read his intentions and cleared to safety.
After seeing out four minutes of injury-time, Spartans were able to celebrate their place in the third qualifying round and continued their solid start to the new season.
FC United of Manchester: Lavercombe, Jones (Donohue), Rain (Sinclair-Smith), Dodd, Baker, Morris, Waddecar (Linney), Potts, Holmes, Main, Ennis Subs: Bennett, Fieldhouse, Mulvey.
Blyth Spartans: Mitchell, Liddle, Reid, Watson, O’Donnell, Dale (Evans), Byrne, McKeown (Clark), Deverdics (Buddle), Lees, Thomson Subs: McNall, Milburn, Curran.
Goals: Thomson (12, 74)
Referee: Thomas Kirk