Blyth Spartans won the battle of the Evo-Stik Premier League’s form sides as they beat Corby Town 4-2 to continue their winning start to 2017.
Daniel Maguire opened the scoring with a cool finish on 14 minutes, before Stefan Moore levelled just before the break with a spectacular effort.
The home side rode the storm at the start of the second half before Sean Reid slotted home to restore Blyth’s lead on 70 minutes. Maguire’s 20th goal of the season and a late strike from Luke Armstrong put the gloss on the result, but Blyth more than deserved their 11th straight league victory.
After being taken to extra-time in Wednesday’s Techflow Group Northumberland Senior Cup semi-final against Blyth Town, Spartans made two changes for the visit of Corby as Jordan Watson and Jordan Laidler returned in place of Andrew Cartwright and Damen Mullen.
Corby had won four and drawn one of their last five games, so it was a meeting of the two form sides in the division.
The visitors looked to defy their lowly position in the league within the first two minutes, but Blyth keeper Paul Woolston leapt up high to punch David Bell’s wind-assisted corner off the line.
Jarrett Rivers picked out a terrible clearance from Aidan Grant on the edge of the area on 12 minutes before playing in Maguire, but the striker’s shot was blocked.
Another fantastic interception two minutes later put Maguire in again and this time he made no mistake.
Reid raced to get a boot on the ball to release Maguire, who ran into the area and rounded Grant with ease. Taking every second of the time afforded to him, he picked his spot perfectly to place the ball past three desperate bodies on the line.
Things could have got even better for Spartans nine minutes later when Maguire drilled a cross in towards Luke Armstrong at the near post and he appeared to beat Aaron Brown to divert the ball onto the post, but the assistant’s flag was already raised for offside.
David Atkinson got caught trying to see the ball out on 25 minutes as Philip Trainer dispossessed him on the byline. The striker hit one from a narrow angle, but Woolston was able to palm the ball away at his near post.
Reid leapt up well to meet Laidler’s free kick with his head just before the half-hour mark and looked certain to double Spartans’ lead. However, Grant produced a fantastic one-handed low stop from point-blank range to keep his side in the contest.
And Corby more than took advantage of that lifeline, with a speculative equaliser two minutes before half-time.
Moore spotted Woolston off his line and hit one on the turn from 35 yards out. The keeper scrambled back to try and keep the shot out but watched helplessly as the ball found the top corner.
There was still time for Blyth to have another chance before the whistle and the home side really should have gone in ahead. However, Armstrong could only fire wide when he looked certain to profit from a goalmouth scramble in the Corby area.
Corby had taken heart from their equaliser just before the break and seemed reinvigorated when they came back out. Moore cut the ball back from the byline on 54 minutes, but Ben Milnes’ shot from the edge of the area was blocked well by Watson.
It took nearly 15 minutes for Blyth to register their first chance of the second half. Ryan Hutchinson strode forward and rode the challenge of two Corby players and picked out Maguire with a ball into feet, but Grant held his shot well.
Blyth camped in the Corby half for long spells in the second half but had no luck, despite prolonged pressure down the right side. Spartans finally mixed it up with an attack down the left on 70 minutes and it paid instant dividends
Watson took four out of the game with a lovely flick up over to Robert Dale, who sailed a great cross into the area. Grant flapped it down into the path of Reid, who drilled home to retake the lead for the hosts.
Another majestic bit of play by the enigmatic Spartans captain made it 3-1 with 11 minutes to go.
Dale put Milnes on the ground, before ghosting past three and putting another fantastic cross in. This time Maguire rose up to powerfully head his 20th goal of the season into the roof of the net.
The home side put Town to the sword again on 86 minutes when Rivers did brilliantly to turn Jamie Anton on the byline and play a ball into the near post. Armstrong slid in well to help the ball on its way across Grant and in at the far post.
Rivers then had a glorious chance to get on the score-sheet himself but could not keep his effort on target after doing the hard part.
With the game in the second of three added minutes, substitute Giuseppe Iaciofano stabbed home a second for Corby.
Blyth’s win made it 12 in a row in all competitions, and they will look to continue their 100 per cent winning run when they make the trip to fellow promotion hopefuls Spennymoor Town on Tuesday night.
Blyth Spartans: Woolston, Atkinson, Watson, Laidler (Pattison 90), Hutchinson, Buddle, Rivers, Reid (McTiernan 78), Maguire (Mullen 83), Armstrong, Dale. Subs not used: Pell, Wrightson.