By Dan Rolls
Spartans secured their first win on the road since November after a battling performance away at Leamington saw Blyth secure a 1-0 win thanks to a Sam Hodgson penalty.
Blyth started off the game under the cosh, as Gloucester looked to take an early lead. The first real chance they had fell to Liam Cross who headed an effort straight at Alex Mitchell from close range.
Early shouts for a penalty for Leamington were waived away by the referee but Mitchell was called into action just moments later to deny Edwards. Leamington again drove forward minutes later but Cross’ effort went wide of goal from the edge of the area.
15 minutes in and Spartans we’re defending well and limiting Leamington to half chances but we’re unable to create much going forward. The hosts did go close again with an effort with Turner, but Mitchell was equal to the close range effort with a fantastic stop.
By now Spartans we’re begging to grow into the game and began to work the ball down the flanks, with Spellman causing the Leamington defence headaches but no clear cut effort on goal came from it.
Leamington caused trouble for Spartans moments later when Adam Walker drilled in a great cross but Michael Liddle managed to get in front of the forward and clear it away.
Again Leamington created more opportunities just minutes later as Turner controlled the ball in the box and had an effort on goal but once again Mitchell was equal to it.
Blyth began to pressure Leamington before the end of the half with some decent runs in behind the defenders, and it would be one of those runs from Spellman that saw Spartans awarded a penalty as he was brought down before he could fire an effort at goal.
Clarke was originally only going to get a yellow card for his foul, but his comments to the referee and a Spartans player saw that changed to a red.
New man Sam Hodgson stepped up and cooly fired the penalty into the bottom corner of the net as the keeper dived and went the wrong way.
As the second half started the momentum was with Spartans. A string of corners in the opening 5 minutes of the half saw nothing materialise for Blyth in terms of clear efforts on goal though.
Leamington then began to crank up the pressure pouring bodies into the box in an attempt to draw level but new signing Cousin-Dawson and Matty Elsdon were able to keep throw themselves in the way of a few efforts from Walker to force a string of corners.
In the 54th minute applauses rang out from the away end for a minutes applause in memory of Lee Hulme of the Cannock Spartans.
As the hour mark approached Blyth began to cause some headaches for Leamington with Spellman making some superb runs and putting in a cross to win Spartans a corner but nothing came from it.
Moments later Spellman launched a strike at goal from distance but the Leamington keeper was equal to the effort.
Prior to another Blyth corner, Cedric Main replaced Sam Hodgson before the Leamington keeper (Hawkins) collected the ball from said corner and then appeared to go down with a knee injury.
Hawkins tried to continue on but went down injured again from a goal kick, forcing the hosts into using full back James Mace as a replacement goalkeeper after a near 10 minute break in play.
Once the break in play was over Leamington began to pile on the pressure, desperately trying to snatch an equaliser with a very high line and throwing plenty of bodies into the box. They were unable to really carve out a chance as Spartans defence held firm.
Leamington substitute Usher-Shipway began to cause Spartans problems with his long throws into the box, and in the 91st minute it nearly fell to head of a Leamington forward on the line but Mitchell managed to snatch it out of the air.
Spartans broke on the counter just seconds later but substitute Troy Chiabi couldn’t get the ball into Cedric Main in the middle of the box to wrap up the game.
After that chance, it was all Leamington in the final moments. They threw everything they had at it with cross after across flying across the face of goal but Blyth held firm to hold out for the 1-0 victory after a gritty but solid performance.
Leamington | Hawkins (Mace) Meredith, Hall, Clarke, Streete, Lane, Cross (Perry), Walker, Hulbert, Edwards, Turner (Usher-Shipway)
Unused Subs – Kelly-Evans, English
Blyth Spartans | Mitchell, Barrett, Elsdon, Cousin-Dawson, Liddle, McGowan, Hickey (C), Pani, Spellman, Round (Chiabi), Hodgson (Main)
Unused Subs – Walker, Dopson, Barlow
Attendance | 558 (60 away fans and one horse watching over the fence)