By Dan Rolls
Due to the Northumberland Senior Cup’s player eligibility rules, it was a rotated Spartans side that secured a place in the semi-final, thanks a wonder goal from Michael Liddle and an inch perfect finish from youngster Jay Errington.
Spellman, Cousin-Dawson and Chiabi all missed out on the game as they weren’t at the club when the original tie was schedule was due to take place way back in November. Cedric Main was also ruled out as he was carrying a knock. In stepped under 19’s captain Matty Dopson, Michael Richardson Josh Gillies and young forward Jay Errington.
With the rain pouring down, the pitch became heavy well before the kick off making it difficult to pass the ball around.
Whilst Spartans had some early possession, they were unable to really create much in the opening stages and it was the hosts who had the first real effort at goal when Regan Paterson was played in 25-yards away from goal in the centre of park, but his effort was hit well over the cross bar.
15 minutes in and it was Shields who began to take control of the game, going close again when full-back Chris McDonalds’ shot from the edge of the box flew over the bar.
The early momentum for The Robins was halted though when right-back Doyle went down injured, with the hosts forced into bringing on former Morpeth stalwart Stephen Forster in his place.
After a spell of both teams exchanging possession in the middle of the park, Shields would win a free kick in a dangerous position right on the corner of the Spartans box when JJ Chrisp was brought down. Former Spartan Connor Oliver stepped up and blasted the free kick well over, wasting what was a great chance for Shields.
After Jordan Hickey was booked for a foul in midfield, the hosts once again turned up the pressure and had Spartans chasing shadows when Paterson and Chrisp carved out chances on the edge of the Spartans box, but once again the efforts were fired high and wide causing Alex Mitchell no trouble.
Before the half-concluded Blyth had their best chance of the game so far when Jay Errington broke forward and got one on one with Hodgson in the Shields goal, only for him to make a brilliant save to keep the game goalless.
As the second half got underway Spartans began to finally take control the game, with Curtis Round causing the Shields defence trouble on the left flank and it was his ball into the box that just evaded Errington, Hickey and O’Donnell in the middle and after a scramble on the penalty spot, it was Errington who’s shot was well saved by Hodgson.
A few more crosses into and across the box would cause Shields trouble but no clear but chances were carved out, before Graham Fenton summoned Michael Liddle and Rhys Evans in place of JJ O’Donnell and Matty Dopson.
Another ball into the box from Spartans left flank from Liddle bounced around before Spartans could get a shot on goal before goalkeeper Hodgson pelted the ball away, all the way up the pitch, falling into the path of Cam Cunningham who finished past Mitchell to put the Pitching In Northern Premier East side 1-0 up in the 69th minute.
The lead wouldn’t last for long though as Spartans broke forward instantly and it would be Michael Liddle who found himself on the right side of the pitch, curling in a what potentially could have been a cross all the way over the bodies in the box and over Hodgson before dropping in the far side of the goal to pull the game level.
5 minutes later Spartans broke forward again, this time falling into the path of youngster Jay Errington who beat a defender to slot an inch perfect effort into the back of the net to put Blyth 2-1.
The quick turn around from Spartans would go unanswered from Shields, as they only managed to create one half chance when a ball flashed across the box but no Shields player was able to get a foot on it and that saw the holders through to a semi-final clash away at Heaton Stannington.
North Shields | Hodgson, Doyle (Forster 24’), McDonald, Oliver, Bexton, Walker, Robinson (Heppell 82’) , JJ Chrisp (Van-Zandvliet 67’), Daniel Wilson, Cam Cunningham, Regan Paterson (Turner 67’)
Unused subs | Steavens
Goals | Cunningham ‘69
Blyth Spartans | Mitchell, Lees, Richardson (Livermore 88’), Hickey, O’Donnell (Liddle 60’), Round, Gillies, Elsdon, Deverdics, Dopson (Evans 62’), Errington
Unused subs | Elliot, McGowan
Goals | Liddle ‘71, Errington ‘76