BY Liam O’Brien
In association with:
ALAN McLEAN FCMA CGMA
Chartered Management Accountant
Vanarama National League North
Saturday December 26th 2020
BLYTH SPARTANS 2-2 GATESHEAD
Blyth Spartans and Gateshead shared the spoils in a fiercely contested local derby – which saw Liam Agnew and Corey McKeown score their first goals for the club.
Greg Olley opened the scoring in the 21st minute when his wind-assisted shot managed to get past Brendan Pearson. Seven minutes later, Blyth then equalised when Agnew smashed home from close range.
Gateshead took the lead again in the 37th minute when Jordan Preston got on the end of a through ball by Ged Garner.
But McKeown’s goal of the season contender earned Spartans a deserved point.
The opening minutes were closely contested with neither side able to get a shot away. Gateshead caused some problems from corners but Blyth were able to keep them out.
Blyth’s congested penalty box made it hard for Gateshead to get inside which meant they were forced into shots from range.
Danny Greenfield tried in his luck from range but his strike from outside the box went wide of the near post.
Gateshead got the opening goal of the game when the wind helped Preston’s pass find Olley, who unleashed a strike at goal that swerved in the wind and past Pearson in the Blyth goal.
Spartans got the equaliser not long after. Jamie Clark collected the ball out wide, dribbled into the box and unleashed a shot across goal. Battersby saved the shot but only as far as Agnew, who smashed his shot into the bottom far corner of the net.
Gateshead restored their lead in the 34th minute when Garner sent Preston one-on-one. He managed to wrong foot the defender and slot it past Pearson.
Preston went looking to double his tally for the day but Pearson was able to save and collect the rebound before Jordan Cook could get on the end of it.
Gateshead were denied a chance to make it 3-1 when Garner’s shot struck the inside of the post and was cleared by Blyth.
Spartans got a chance to equalise when a ball was sent into the box that narrowly missed Jamie Clark but Levi Amantchi got on the end of it and had a strike at goal that was saved at the near post by Battersby.
That was Clark’s last piece of action, who was forced off with injury.
With the last kick of the first half, Priestley Griffiths looked to get an equaliser and had an audacious strike from long range that went narrowly wide.
In the 59th minute, Amantchi went on a stunning run while holding off Alex Nicholson. He couldn’t get a shot away so went looking for pass to Griffiths but Gateshead were able to recover and get the ball cleared.
Blyth equalised in the 63rd minute through McKeown’s stunning strike. He collected outwide, cut inside of Kallum Griffiths and emphatically picked out the top corner with Battersby routed to the spot.
Gateshead went looking to take the lead again with Greenfield having an effort at goal from 20 yards out that was comfortably saved by Pearson. Pearson was then forced to make a stunning save a few minutes after that from an effort by Cook.
Blyth were forced into their own half for final stages of the game with Gateshead piling on the pressure. Garner got his head on the end of a corner by Olley but his effort went over the bar.
In the 85th minute, Gateshead missed a great chance to take the lead when a shot by Garner from outside the box was parried by Pearson straight into the feet of Olley but his scuffed effort went wide of the near post.
Gateshead were forced to play with 10 men for the final seconds of the game when Jack Hunter was given a second yellow and sent off by the referee in stoppage time for dissent.
Spartans were able to hold on and get a hard-fought point.
Spartans : Pearson, Sakellaropoulos, Charlton, Cunningham, Elsdon, Agnew (Cain, 75), Heslop (c), Thomson (Guy, 90), Griffiths, Clark (McKeown, 44), Amantchi. Subs not used: Dart, Young
Goals: Agnew (27) McKeown (63)
Gateshead: Battersby, Nicholson, Smith, Hunter, Cook, Olley (c), Garner, Griffiths, Cooper, Greenfield (Deverdics, 78), Preston (Langstaff, 78). Subs not used: Male, Dale, Ward
Goals: Olley (21) Preston (34)
Bookings: Hunter (10, 90) Cook (31)
Red Card: Hunter (90)