Blyth Spartans earn battling win over title rivals Salford City

Blyth Spartans midfielder Damen Mullen in action. Picture by Bill Broadley
Blyth Spartans midfielder Damen Mullen in action. Picture by Bill Broadley
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Blyth Spartans saw off the challenge of title rivals Salford City on Tuesday night in front of a large and passionate crowd

The home side took the game to the visitors from the off and on five minutes won a penalty when Aaron Wearmouth was brought down by Chris Lynch. Midfielder Damen Mullen stepped up and slammed the ball high and wide of City keeper Jay Lynch’s left hand to put Blyth one up.

A minute later Nathan Buddle shot after receiving a pass from Robbie Dale but his effort was blocked and cleared.

Salford then had a great opportunity to draw level when a cross by Jordon Hume from the right fell invitingly at the feet of John Johnson two yards from goal and unmarked. But the midfielder somehow managed to skew his shot wide of the target.

Then on in, for the rest of the half, it was predominately Blyth who looked the more dangerous.

A Dale free kick from 40 yards was caught by the strong wind and appeared to be sailing over Lynch’s head and into the net, but the keeper managed to back pedal just quickly enough to be able to palm the ball over the bar.

Wilson Kneeshaw then drove just wide of the post before Wearmouth saw his long range shot clear the bar.

The influential Dale had been on the receiving end of some close attention from Salford’s captain, Lynch. It was rather too close for the referee’s liking after 35 minutes as a crunching challenge meant the midfielder received a yellow card for his troubles.

Blyth continued to press and in the final minute of the half a precise pull back by Dale found Wearmouth well placed but he rushed his shot and Salford cleared the danger.

Blyth continued where they had left off in the second half with Mullen firing narrowly wide and Dale nearly forcing an opening with one of his trademark twisting runs down the left.

Five minutes in Kneeshaw came close to scoring on two occasions. Both efforts, from about ten yards out, were deflected for corners as Blyth kept up their relentless pressure.

It was only after 65 minutes that Salford began to look threatening as they started to wrestle back some of the initiative.

A Johnson snap shot from distance rattled the Blyth bar before Lynch hit the post.

Joshua Hine was then clear in on goal twice in quick succession but he could not find the target.

Somewhat against the run of play at that stage of the contest, Blyth extended their lead.

Dale brilliantly picked out Michael Richardson and his shimmying run in to the penalty box deceived defender Stephen O’Halloran. Richardson then pulled to ball back to find Kneeshaw centrally placed six yards from goal and the 21-year-old coolly placed his shot past Jay Lynch to the delight of the home fans and Spartans players alike.

However, Salford were not done and with three minutes of the 90 remaining, after a neat three man move, Hine finally got the goal he was searching for when he finished confidently from 18 yards.

But it was Blyth who were the worthy victors of a terrific match when the final whistle blew.

Blyth Spartans: A McHugh, J Watson, A Nicholson, N Buddle, R Hutchinson, D Mullen, A Wearmouth (D Morse 90), M Richardson, W Kneeshaw, M Wade, R Dale. Subs not used: N Hooks, D Parker, A Davis, P Robinson.

Attendance: 1,432.