Blyth spirit on show as Spartans beat Chorley

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In a season where Tom Wade’s youthful Blyth Spartans keep surprising it could be said that a win over Evo-Stik Northern Premier League title favourites Chorley would surpass the lot.

And on Saturday at Croft Park that is exactly what they did through hard work, team spirit and a sheer will to win that warmed the hearts of a vibrant Green Army inside what can be rapidly renamed fortress Croft Park.

The win over the Magpies made it eight wins out of nine at home for Spartans, only Marine have come away from Northumberland with a point during that spell.

The pitch passed an inspection and right back Shaun Utterson made his second debut for the club and in the process his 50th appearance for the club.

Conor Grant replaced Michal Misiewicz in goal and Nathan Buddle moved in to centre half to accommodate Utterson at full back.

A bright start saw both sides attacking without reward, that was until the 20th minute when the title challenging Magpies took the lead.

A clever Dale Whitham through ball saw captain Andrew Teague released into the right hand side of the area and his dangerous ball across the six-yard box was diverted into his own net by Utterson, not the welcome back to Spartans he envisaged pre-match.

The dominance from the visitors continued and Grant was forced into a smart stop from a Whitham volley from all of 20 yards on the half hour mark.

What appeared to be all about Spartans getting into half-time just one goal behind actually saw them going into the break in the lead following a remarkable minute.

A wonderful one and two touch passing move saw Lewis Horner break towards the edge of the Magpies area and the former Hibernian midfielder played an intricate through ball to release Dan Maguire in on goal, and he calmly finished into the bottom right hand corner.

Then just 30 seconds later Spartans were awarded a free kick on the edge of the area after Ian Watson was upended and Neal Hooks stepped up and curled a wonderful right footed effort past keeper Ashton who was left grasping at thin air.

The visitors are not title favourites for no reason and they were almost on even terms within five minutes of the restart. Only a brave Buddle block denied Jake Cotterell after he smashed a volley goalwards from the edge of the Spartans area.

To their credit, Wade’s youngsters hit back, although it was an older head who tested Ashton when Robbie Dale forced the keeper into a smart stop at his near post.

Then a Chorley break saw Jack Dorney left with a relatively simple tap in but the former AFC Fylde winger was denied by a brave point blank stop from Grant, and from that moment on Spartans visibly lifted as they sensed it was their day.

If ever a killer goal was needed then this was the day and it duly came on 82 minutes.

Some persistent closing down from Dale forced Mark Ross to concede a corner.

From the resultant flag kick Maguire swung the ball into the area where it was met by the head of centre back Dan Parker and his firm header across goal nestled into the far corner for his second of the season and sealed a hugely impressive three points for Spartans.

On a day when big hearts were needed Spartans showed all of the old Blyth spirit to notch a win against a side they more than likely won’t face next season ... or will they?

With every passing win and achievement there is a growing confidence that a genuine play-off push could be on.

One thing is for certain from what Croft Park has seen from this young Spartans side it certainly won’t be for a lack of effort or commitment.

Spartans’ man of the match was Nathan Buddle.

Blyth Spartans: Grant, Utterson, Parker, Buddle, Kendrick, Hooks, Horner, Wade, Dale, Maguire, Watson (Wearmouth 81) Subs not used: Purewal, Mullen, Cummings.

Attendance: 437.