Blyth Spartans held at Ashton as both sides see penalties saved

Blyth Spartans' central defender Nathan Buddle. Picture by Bill Broadley
Blyth Spartans' central defender Nathan Buddle. Picture by Bill Broadley
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Blyth Spartans came away from Ashton United with a point on Saturday after both goalkeepers saved penalties to ensure the game ended 1-1.

The hosts started slightly on top, but once the Spartans had settled and adjusted to the strong wind in their faces, plus an unpredictable bounce, Alun Armstrong’s side went on to dominate proceedings until the break.

Winger Adam Wrightson burst in to the Ashton penalty box but was denied by a diving save from home keeper Luke Pilling.

On 11 minutes, Pilling was again called in to the fray, this time blocking a Robert Dale shot after the Spartans captain had been put in by Daniel Maguire.

Within minutes the roles were reversed, with Dale feeding Maguire, but some desperate defending saw his effort blocked and cleared.

Blyth were awarded a penalty after 18 minutes when Sean Reid was fouled. Maguire stepped up to take the kick, but Pilling pulled off a stunning one-handed save.

However, Blyth kept up the pressure with Dale slaloming through the home defence before firing narrowly over the bar.

Full back Andrew Cartwright then had a shot blocked before Wrightson fired wide.

Blyth keeper Paul Woolston had been having a quiet afternoon but was called on after 25 minutes to get down sharply to collect a whipped in free kick.

Play returned to the other end of the pitch, with Pilling reacting swiftly to put pressure on the advancing Maguire and force the striker to snatch at his shot that cleared the bar.

Blyth deservedly took the lead on 27 minutes when Jarrett Rivers was fouled 30 yards out.

Dale curled his free kick to the far post where it was met by the head of Reid and the midfielder steered the ball back across goal where Nathan Buddle leapt and headed past Pilling.

After the break, Ashton came at Blyth with renewed vigour and they equalised on 61 minutes as Matthew Chadwick found Ryan Crowther who fired an unstoppable shot high into Woolston’s net.

There then followed a period of Blyth having to defend under some pressure. Reid scrambled away a dangerous cross before Woolston produced a fine save to deny Stachini.

It looked like Ashton were going to grab a 90th minute winner when Chadwick went down in the box. The striker took the penalty kick himself but Woolston was equal to it, diving low to his right to collect the ball.

Blyth almost grabbed all three points in added time but Luke Armstrong’s stooping header went just wide.

Blyth Spartans: Woolston, Cartwright, Liddle, Reid, Buddle (McTiernan 80), Hutchinson (Pell 45), Rivers (Armstrong 82), Laidler, Maguire, Wrightson, Dale. Subs not used: Bell, McHugh.

Attendance: 402.