Barwell 0 Blyth Spartans 2

Blyth Spartans' Matty Pattison. Picture by Bill Broadley
Blyth Spartans' Matty Pattison. Picture by Bill Broadley

An impressive display from Matty Pattison helped Blyth Spartans to get the better of Barwell.

the midfielder’s two rockets illuminated an otherwise far from sparkling Evo-Stik Premier League encounter.

The flame-haired winger fired home on 21 minutes with a ferocious free-kick, before he continued his hot streak with his second just after the hour – following some calamitous goalkeeping from Liam Castle.

Barwell huffed and puffed in the dying embers of the game, but were powerless to prevent the visitors from allowing their unbeaten run to soar to eight games on Bonfire Night.

Spartans welcomed Pattison, captain Robert Dale and Nathan Buddle back into the starting lineup following injury, while on-loan Newcastle United goalkeeper Paul Woolston made his debut between the sticks at Kirkby Road.

And the 18-year-old was called straight into action within the first two minutes, when Barwell captain Brady Hickey shot across the England youth keeper. Woolston got down well and was able to hold onto the ball, to snuff out the early danger.

A scrappy opening from both sides ensured, but Dale created Blyth’s first chance with a deep cross towards the back post on five minutes.

The talismanic winger looked to pick out Daniel Maguire at the back post, but the ball flew just over the striker’s head.

The visitors had nearly converted from a right wing cross and Barwell went close themselves from a similar position a minute later.

Owen Story found the head of Luke Barlone at the near post, but his header was collected comfortably by Woolston.

Barwell continued to apply the pressure and were only denied an opening goal on 16 minutes thanks to a quality save from the debutant Blyth stopper.

Montel Gibson had picked out Story with an inch-perfect through ball into the box, through a crowd of Spartans’ bodies. Story’s shot seemed destined to find the top corner, but a strong instinctive hand from Woolston palmed the ball behind for a corner.

If Barwell had been left frustrated by that wasted chance, then it was only compounded when Blyth took the lead – somewhat against the run of play – on 21 minutes, when Andrew Cartwright was fouled on the right corner of the Barwell box.

Pattison stepped up to take the set-piece and, just like he had against Halesowen Town earlier this season, the South African found the top corner with a fantastic curling free-kick – as Liam Castle was left stranded by the unstoppable rocket.

And Blyth could have been further ahead just after the half-hour mark, when Dale nodded the ball down into the path of Maguire. ‘Nipa’ took a touch to compose himself, but could only crash the ball off the inside of the post with Castle beaten once again.

With less than five minutes to go until half-time, Luke Armstrong nearly caught out Castle in no-man’s land – as the goalkeeper raced out to pick up Nigel Julien’s poor backpass.

The young striker tried to nip in ahead of the keeper, but Castle showed good composure to keep possession and then clear his lines.

Blyth had struggled to get going in the first half, but they were straight out of the blocks after the break – as Maguire got down well and cut the ball back to an advancing Pattison just inside the box. However, the former Newcastle United and Norwich City midfielder couldn’t keep his first-time strike on target.

Gibson had been a nuisance for Barwell throughout the first 45 and looked to have finally been rewarded for his efforts, when he was picked out by Cleveland Taylor’s long cross from the right. The striker won a header at the back post, but the ball went just wide

With just over an hour gone, Spartans finally doubled their lead – after some comedic keeping from Castle.

The Barwell number one tried to beat Maguire to a bobbling ball with his feet and got it all wrong – as the striker was able to nip in and play the ball back to Armstrong, who then beat Castle himself. Opting against shooting himself, the 20-year-old sent a low ball across the box and Pattison finished emphatically to score his ninth goal of the season.

Barwell continued to play despite that second setback and were desperately close to reducing the deficit when Gibson was played in down the left. The forward shot wide across Woolston, however, with Barlone unable to meet the trickling ball at the back post.

Less than two minutes later, Spartans thought they had their third. Maguire forced a fine low save from Castle and Armstrong looked destined to tap-in the rebound, but was adjudged to be offside from his strike-partner’s shot.

While Blyth had scored two hat-tricks during Tuesday’s 7-1 demolition of Goole AFC, the travelling Spartans support would be denied a third in four days – as Pattison made way for Richard Pell, with the visitors opting for a more defensive approach by switching to a flat-back three and having the full-backs move to wing-backs.

Despite an attempt from Alun Armstrong to strengthen his defence with that change, Barwell really should have scored with 15 minutes to go.

Hickey’s header hit the far post, but the ball sat up perfectly for Julien to nod in from two yards. With the goal at his mercy, the midfielder misjudged the flight of the ball and could only embarrassingly loop the ball up and over off the crossbar.

That was as good as it got for either side in the late stages of the game, despite Barwell spending long spells in the Spartans’ half – as Blyth claimed the three points they needed to remain a point behind Whitby Town at the top of the Evo-Stik Premier League standings.

Armstrong’s side now have a full week to prepare for their Buildbase FA Trophy tie against Halesowen Town at Croft Park next Saturday.

Barwell: Castle, Taylor, Balliger, Towers, Kay, Julien, Story (Martin 59), Stanley, Barlone, Hickey, Gibson (Nisevic 71).

Subs not used: Smith-Varnam, Rowe, Edgington.

Blyth Spartans: Woolston, Cartwright, Liddle, Mullen (Turnbull 85), Buddle, Hutchinson, Pattison (Pell 71), Wade, Maguire, Reid, Dale.

Subs not used: Rivers, Nicholson, Bell.

Referee: Edward Pidduck

Attendance: 241

Spartans Man of the Match: Matty Pattison