Barwell inflict first defeat in seven games for Blyth Spartans

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A header in the 70th minute from Barwell captain Richard Lavery condemned Spartans to their first defeat in seven games.

On a day when Tom Wade’s side never really got going they were punished by a Canaries side who showed more energy and fully deserved to take all three points.

There were two changes from Monday night’s draw at Curzon Ashton as Dan Hawkins returned in midfield for the unavailable Stephen Turnbull and Alex Nicholson was selected at right back ahead of Joel Dixon.

The game got off to a poor start with neither side showing anything, and it was not until the 18-minute mark when the first chance came and with it the first goal.

A massive headed clearance from Richard Lavery landed in behind a Spartans back four who were caught napping. That allowed Ant Carney in on goal and he made no mistake by smashing past Peter Jefferies as the Spartans keeper closed him down.

It was a lead the Canaries only held for ten minutes as they gifted Spartans their equaliser.

A quick goal kick by Liam Castle saw the Barwell number one try to find right back Scott Lower, however, he only picked out Robbie Dale and the winger drove into the area but was brought down by Lavery and the penalty was awarded.

Dale stepped up and calmly sent Castle the wrong way placing the spot kick to the keeper’s left.

The goal came totally against the run of play as the home side were dominating possession up until that point.

Former Leicester City academy product Jon Stevenson was causing problems for Blyth’s back four and he had two headed chances before half-time.

Firstly he headed wide from ten yards from Jamie Towers’ cross from the right when he should have done better. Then three minutes before the interval he got a powerful header on target but a spectacular stop from Jefferies saw the Spartans keeper push the ball over the bar for a corner. That came to nothing and the teams went into half time on level terms.

In terms of quality the second half was just as poor as the first but it was Spartans who had the first chance six minutes in.

It was Dale who produced with a magical run down the left as he skipped past two desperate challenges from Lower and Jamie Hood. As Dale cut in from the byline he opened up a chance but fired agonisingly wide of the far post.

The hosts again wrestled the advantage in the game against an increasingly lacklustre Spartans side and seemed to cope better with the blustery conditions.

A desperate poor half did not really come to life until the 70th minute as the Canaries retook the lead.

Right back Lower was given far too much time to cross and his high looping cross seemed to catch the wind as he looked as if it was going to sail out for a goal kick. That meant it landed perfectly at the far post and Lavery could not miss from virtually on the goal line.

Chances were hard to come by for Spartans and they only really created one of note as they looked for an equaliser that they would not have really deserved.

With ten minutes left Arran Wearmouth – who was brought on for Jarrett Rivers – released Dan Maguire into the left hand side of the area. However, the striker’s first touch allowed the ball to get away from him and he had to overstretch to get the shot in and it rolled harmlessly wide of the left hand upright.

If anything the closing stages looked like producing a third goal for the Canaries rather than an equaliser for Spartans.

That third goal could and perhaps should have come with three minutes left as substitute Brendan Murphy was sent through on goal but Jefferies made himself big and blocked the shot.

Attention now turns to Spartans’ first league home fixture since September 6 as league leaders Skelmersdale United make the trip to Croft Park on Tuesday night.

Blyth Spartans: Jeffries, Nicholson, Watson, Hutchinson, Buddle, Hooks (Quinn 81), Rivers (Wearmouth 67), Hawkins, Maguire, Wade (Mullen 87), Dale. Subs not used: Dixon, Cummings.

Attendance: 161.