Blyth Spartans battle to well earned point at Workington

Blyth Spartans skipper Robbie Dale holds off a Workington challenge in Easter Monday's 1-1 draw. Picture by Bill Broadley
Blyth Spartans skipper Robbie Dale holds off a Workington challenge in Easter Monday's 1-1 draw. Picture by Bill Broadley

It is very much as you were in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League play-off chase after Blyth Spartans’ Easter Monday draw at Workington matched the scoreline at FC United of Manchester and Curzon Ashton.

Tom Wade’s outfit went into the lead at Borough Park thanks to Michael Richardson’s second goal of the weekend but were pegged back by a goal from Conor Tinnion seven minutes before the break.

Spartans got off to the perfect start with a goal in the second minute.

An Alex Nicholson ball forward looked relatively straight forward for Reds defender Kyle May, but a lapse in concentration saw the ball escape from his control and Dan Maguire found Richardson ten yards out and the in-form midfielder calmly rolled the ball inside the near post.

There was a real let off for Blyth in the tenth minute as a vicious in-swinging free kick from Jake Simpson found the unmarked Matty Tymon, but the Reds’ top scorer somehow managed to send the ball wide from six yards out.

The Cumbrian side came again and continued to put Spartans under pressure.

Player-manager Gavin Skelton was next to try his luck as he collected a return pass from Tymon but fired narrowly wide as Nick Thomson scrambled along his line.

Midway through the half the hosts came close to a somewhat fortunate equaliser. A loose ball bounced up 25 yards from goal to Skelton and the veteran midfielder hooked a volley goalwards that effort had Thomson scrambling backwards and the Spartans keeper tipped it over the bar.

Spartans finally escaped the pressure on the half hour mark as Arran Wearmouth found some space down the left. He ran at Simpson before firing a cross into the edge of the six-yard box that Maguire headed over.

Seven minutes before the break the hosts equalised.

A long ball forward saw Matty Tyman ease Danny Parker off the ball, with more than a hint of a push, that allowed the Reds striker to advance towards the edge of the area before rolling in Conor Tinnion. The winger cut inside the challenge of Damen Mullen before rolling a shot past the desperate dive of Thomson.

The Reds started the second half on top and a lightening quick break instigated by Skelton almost gave them the lead. The player manager broke forward and released Alex Newby into the box but the forward saw his curling effort well saved by Thomson and the loose ball was cleared to safety.

The second half lacked the intensity of the first with only half chances being created by the hosts. Long range efforts from Phil McLuckie and Tinnion never really came close to testing Nick Thomson but were signals of intent from the host.

Spartans finally burst into life on the hour mark as Neal Hooks and Robbie Dale combined to allow midfielder Hooks for volley at goal but Jonny Jamieson got across goal to parry the ball out for a corner.

Michael Richardson had been the brightest spark in Spartans second half and he was unlucky to be denied his second goal of the day shortly after Hooks’ chance. The former Newcastle United midfielder burst past two challenges but was denied by a brilliant last-ditch tackle by Reds captain Sam Smith.

Spartans were enjoying their best spell of the game and they came again with twenty minutes left. Maguire was released down the left and skipped past a challenge but was faced with a narrow angle. However as he was set to fire at goal team mate Stephen Turnbull took control and fired tamely at goal and his effort was comfortable for Jamieson.

There was a big penalty shout for the home side with ten minutes remaining as a Tinnion corner from the right was cleared by Danny Parker. The centre back cleared against the hand of Hooks and referee Matthews waved away the protests from the majority inside Borough Park.

Tom Wade made changes to try and force a win and one of them, Ash Davis, had a great chance to put his side in front with a minute of normal time remaining. Dan Maguire hooked a ball in behind the Reds back four and Davis used his strength to see of two defenders but his touch was too heavy and that allowed Jamieson to take the ball away from the big striker. With that chance went Spartans hopes and shortly after referee Matthews brought down the curtain on an entertaining affair between two strong sides.

Spartans welcome Nantwich Town to Croft Park on Saturday and are still in with a shout of a play-off place, thanks to a run of one defeat in twenty one games.

Blyth Spartans: Thomson, Nicholson, Mullen, Bramley, Parker, Hooks, Wearmouth (Rivers 65), Richardson (Hawkins 86), Maguire, Turnbull, Dale (Davis 85). Subs not used: Lynch, Watson.

Attendance: 871.