Blyth all but down

Robert Dale applauds the Blyth fans, following his return on loan from Whitley Bay. Picture by Bill Broadley.
Robert Dale applauds the Blyth fans, following his return on loan from Whitley Bay. Picture by Bill Broadley.

IT is surely now only a matter of time before Blyth Spartans are relegated from the Blue Square Bet North with Saturday’s 2-1 defeat against Vauxhall Motors leaving them a massive 14 points from safety with just six games remaining.

With the Motormen one place above Spartans in the league table it was a game that Tommy Cassidy’s side had to win if they were to give themselves any chance of survival.

But not even a bumper away following – comprising largely of a well-oiled stag do from Blyth – could inspire the away side to victory on Merseyside.

Spartans never got going in a first half completely dominated by the hosts at Rivacre Park on Saturday.

Within the opening two minutes Vauxhall’s Tom Hannigan had seen his close range shot deflect off Joe Kendrick and go wide for a corner kick.

Spartans then had Carl Jones to thank for preventing the Motormen from taking the lead when he raced back to clear off his own goal-line after Dan Parkinson had poked the ball past David Knight, when one-on-one with the Blyth keeper.

Parkinson then had another chance but this time Knight managed to save at the feet of the striker.

The breakthrough, which Vauxhall had threatened to make from the first whistle, arrived on 26 minutes when Kevin Holsgrove pulled the ball back for Parkinson who this time found the net with a neat finish from eight yards.

A Kendrick free kick which sailed over the crossbar from 20 yards had looked likely to be the closest Blyth were to come to an equaliser before the break, until a close range shot from Jordon Mellish on 42 minutes was cleared off the line by Vauxhall defender Lee Dames.

Spartans emerged from the dressing room a different side in the second half as they began to create some decent chances.

Firstly, Lee Mason made a strong run down the right before cutting inside and unleashing a powerful shot which forced Scott Tynan into a smart save.

Wayne Phillips then crossed towards Robert Dale in the area who appeared to be prevented from jumping by Josh Wilson, but the penalty claims were waved away by referee Adrian Holmes.

A cross from Mason then found Phillips 16 yards from goal – who saw his shot cleared from the goalmouth by Carl Jones.

Despite a good spell of pressure, Spartans found themselves further behind on 58 minutes when substitute Liam Wynn fired home an unstoppable shot from 30 yards.

Not to be outshone, Dale produced an equally sublime finish at the other end – to halve the deficit with ten minutes remaining – when he turned past his marker on the edge of the area before curling his shot into the far corner, leaving Tynan with no chance.

The visitors should have levelled just a minute later when the substitutes combined to fashion a golden chance with Graeme Armstrong getting on the end of a cross by Sam Hodgson only to see his header go straight into the hands of Tynan.

Vauxhall could have made sure of the points on 89 minutes when Kendrick gifted the ball to Craig Mahon 30 yards from goal, who drove at the Blyth defence before smashing a shot off Knight’s crossbar.

Nevertheless, the hosts managed to hold out for a crucial victory which keeps their survival hopes very much alive.

Spartans were due to welcome Solihull Moors to Croft Park on Tuesday night before another home game on Saturday against Gainsborough Trinity ahead of the trip to Harrogate on Easter Monday.

Blyth Spartans: Knight, Groves, Kendrick, Hooks (Hodgson), Jones, Mellish, Mason (Utterson), Ferrell (Armstrong), Taylor, Dale, Phillips. Man of the match: Groves.

Attendance: 209.