Blyth Spartans put three points on the board in third outing

Blyth Spartans celebrate Dale Hopson's first goal for the club against Tamworth. Picture by Bill Broadley
Blyth Spartans celebrate Dale Hopson's first goal for the club against Tamworth. Picture by Bill Broadley

It was third time lucky for Blyth Spartans on Saturday as they recorded their first win of the season with a 4-2 scoreline over Tamworth at Croft Park.

The visitors broke the deadlock through a fantastic goal from Reece Styche on 14 minutes, before Ryan Hutchinson scored Spartans’ first of the season four minutes later.

Strikes from Daniel Maguire and Jarrett Rivers either side of half-time put the home side ahead, but Styche’s spot-kick halved Tamworth’s deficit on the hour.

Blyth were awarded a penalty of their own on 66 minutes, which allowed Dale Hopson to score his first goal for the club and wrap up Blyth’s first three points of the new Vanarama National League season.

Alun Armstrong made one change from the side that lost 2-0 to FA Trophy holders York City on Tuesday night, with David McTiernan taking the place of Macauley Langstaff.

That change saw McTiernan go into the holding role in midfield, behind Lewis Horner, allowing Hopson to push further up and support striker Maguire.

After an early Tamworth free kick came to nothing, Blyth were in the ascendancy and their first chance saw Dale break through with Maguire in support, but he opted to go it alone and his fierce strike bounced off Tamworth goalkeeper Shaun Rowley’s body.

Dale found himself in a similar situation moments later but his curled effort was deflected behind for corner.

Hopson was next to hit one from way out on 12 minutes, but his shot was blocked.

Tamworth then produced a moment of magic out of nothing to open the scoring through Styche.

The Gibraltar international took a beautifully flicked touch to put the ball past Buddle and leave his man for dead and go one-on-one with Peter Jameson before finishing calmly past the keeper.

Having lost both of their opening two games of the season 2-0, it was imperative that Spartans responded to going behind for their third successive game, and that’s exactly what they did as they equalised within four minutes.

A sweeping Blyth attack saw Maguire and Hutchinson link up well and proceed into the visitors’ 18-yard box. The striker rolled the ball across goal and into the path of Hutchinson who side-footed Spartans’ first goal of the season.

Maguire was terrorising the Tamworth back line again on 27 minutes, but his low shot from the corner of the box was stopped easily by Rowley.

The same could not be said a minute later, though, when last season’s top scorer notched his first of the new campaign with a majestic goal.

Fantastic build-up play from Blyth allowed Hopson to feed the ball through to Maguire on the edge of the area, before the striker produced a beautiful bit of trickery to deceive the defender. Despite still having a bit to do, ‘Nipa’ managed to rifle the ball into the top corner of Rowley’s net with a great finish.

Tamworth tried to respond almost instantly just before the half-hour mark, but Styche could only blast his shot into the side-netting under pressure.

Rivers then whipped a good cross in towards McTiernan, who nodded it towards goal, but unluckily for the former Whitby Town man, it was deflected wide by a defending body.

The former Blackpool winger looked to turn provider once more soon after when he picked out Horner with a low pass across the goal. The former Inverness Caledonian Thistle midfielder mis-timed his shot and the chance went begging.

Rivers crossed in again with six minutes of the first half remaining, but the ball evaded everybody in the box and dropped nicely for Hopson racing in at the back post. He tried to find a way past Rowley from a tight angle, but the stopper stood firm to deny him.

Styche was adjudged to have beaten the offside trap on 44 minutes and raced towards goal one-on-one. However, this time, Jameson forced him wide and got an important hand on the ball to thwart the forward.

Tamworth thought they had restored parity in the second minute of first half stoppage time when Ellis Deeney picked out Jack Lane at the near post. The central defender flashed a header towards goal but Jameson saved well again at point-blank range.

Andy Burns crossed in on 49 minutes and saw the ball blocked back to him by Michael Liddle. The right back shot from the corner of the area but it was well over Jameson’s goal.

A minute later, Dale cut inside from the left wing and tried to pick out the top corner of the far post across Rowley. However, the talismanic winger was unsuccessful as his attempt missed its mark.

Tamworth began to push further and further forward looking to get back into the game, which left gaps at the back that Blyth duly exploited on 56 minutes.

McTiernan broke and played it through to Maguire, whose cross was poorly cleared by the visiting defence. The ball dropped as far as Rivers 16 yards out and the winger was able to find the back of the net through a crowd of bodies to extend Spartans’ lead.

That two-goal cushion would last all of three minutes, though, as Buddle fouled Styche in the area to concede a penalty. The forward stepped up himself to dispatch the spot-kick into the top right corner, giving Jameson no chance, for his second of the afternoon.

Styche was proving to be the only real threat for the visitors and he was picked out once again from a long ball forward after 65 minutes, but with no one in support he was forced into a speculative chip from long-range that Jameson dealt with comfortably.

The Gibraltar international’s best efforts to help the visitors a share of the spoils were not supported by his teammates as Luke Jones gifted Spartans the opportunity to restore their two-goal lead when he felled Maguire in the area on 66 minutes. Hopson stepped up to drill his penalty down the middle with Rowley diving away to his left.

Styche could have had his hat-trick seconds after the restart when the ball fell for him in the box, but he could only shoot wide once again.

Tamworth’s number nine continued to pose problems for the Blyth defenders when he broke through again with 17 minutes to go, chipping the ball over Jameson and riding a challenge from the Spartans stopper. The away dugout shouted for a penalty, but the referee McNamara waved play on and Brad Reid headed wide with an open goal begging.

With eight minutes remaining Rivers picked up a quick throw from Maguire and rode the mis-timed tackle of Jones to get into the area. The winger fired past Rowley at the near post, but the ball fizzed across goal and wide of the far post.

Horner crossed in two minutes later, but substitute Adam Wrightson’s attempted shot looped up into the air. Maguire met it in the air at the back post with an outrageous overhead kick, but he could not find the back of the net with his effort.

Langstaff, who had come on Hopson, forced a fantastic low one-handed save from Rowley as the game entered added time. Rivers looked to get a goal from the follow-up, but the keeper recovered well to put him off as his shot found only the side netting.

With their first success of the season now on the board, Spartans will look to try and make it back-to-back wins when they make the trip to Gainsborough Trinity on Tuesday night for a 7.45pm kick-off.

Blyth Spartans: Jameson, Hutchinson, Liddle, McTiernan, Buddle, J Watson, Rivers, Horner, Maguire, Hopson, Dale. Subs not used: Langstaff, Mullen, Wrightson, S Reid, MacDonald.

Attendance: 654.