Blyth only a replay away from Gateshead meeting in FA Cup

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BLYTH Spartans and Droylsden will battle it out again on Tuesday night at Croft Park for a chance to meet Gateshead at home in the first round proper of the FA cup after Saturday’s fourth qualifying round tie ended in a goalless draw at The Butchers Arms Ground.

A replay is a fair outcome from what was an enthralling cup tie in which both sides had chances to clinch victory near the end.

David Knight made some fine saves throughout the contest to deny the hosts and at the other end Blyth looked dangerous on the attack with the final ball and finish, all that was letting them down at times.

Knight was called into action within the opening three minutes when Carlos Logan cut inside only to fire his shot straight at the Spartans goalkeeper.

In the home side’s next attack John Hardiker found an opening in the Blyth defence but got caught in two minds by producing an effort which resembled neither a shot or a cross and ended up behind for a goal kick to Blyth.

Droylsden remained in control of the contest and came close again when Ciaran Kilheeney turned sharply in the area only to fire his effort straight at Knight.

Mid way through the first-half Blyth almost went ahead against the run of play when Richard Offiong ran onto a pass by Spartans debutant Jamie Mole and skipped past his marker only to fire agonisingly wide of Paul Phillips’ left hand post from the edge of the area.

After coming so close to breaking the deadlock the visitors grew in confidence with Blyth’s two wingers, in the form of Chris Emms and Lee Mason getting more involved in the game and causing some worrying moments for the Droylsden defence.

Spartans failed to make their dominance count in the remainder of the half as a succession of set-pieces went to waste.

Only once did Blyth test Phillips from a dead ball situation and this was when Emms fired in a dangerous free-kick, with the Droylsden goalkeeper saving well down to his right.

At the other end the bloods almost capitalised on Blyth’s wastefulness in front of goal and would have went into the break ahead if it wasn’t for an outstanding save from Knight to deny Lewis Killeen from 14 yards.

The away side started the second half brightly, as Dan Groves surged forward to slide a ball through to Mole, whose powerful shot was tipped away by Phillips.

After a swift counterattack Droylsden came close themselves just moments later when Danny Rowe turned past Carl Jones in the area only to be denied by Knight.

Jones then threw his body in the way of a shot by Steve Hall before Knight saved a volley from Nat Kerr.

In fitting with this end-to-end cup tie Blyth were to threaten again in the next attack when a miss-kick from Mason fell invitingly for Mole, who couldn’t beat Phillips from 16 yards.

The impressive Mason then cut inside and unleashed a powerful left footed strike that was always rising over Phillips’ crossbar.

Blyth continued to pile on the pressure and Offiong appeared to have only Phillips to beat before a brilliant recovery from Kerr saw him block the striker’s effort.

With nine minutes remaining Knight produced his best save of the contest when he showed instinctive reactions to deny Hardiker from close range with his feet.

Blyth finished the game strongly with a flurry of near misses.

Mole was involved again, when he headed towards Groves in the area only for Phillips to gather before the full-back could get a clean strike on the ball.

On 90 minutes a corner from Emms was headed straight at Phillips by substitute Glen Taylor which prompted the tall striker to hold his head in his hands as he realised an effort either side of the Droylsden goalkeeper would have almost certainly put Blyth into the next round of the FA cup.

There was still time for Mole to take the ball down after a long kick from Knight but the striker failed to test Phillips from 25 yards.

Blyth have two home games in a week, starting with the FA cup replay with Droylsden on Tuesday night followed by the visit to Croft Park of Colwyn Bay on Saturday.

Blyth Spartans: Knight, Groves, Cave, Tait (Slaughter), Jones, Buchanan, Mason, Hooks, Mole (Armstrong), Offiong (Taylor), Emms.

Attendance: 393.