BLYTH Spartans are still looking for their first away win of the season in the Blue Square Bet North after a dismal performance saw them slump to a third successive defeat on their travels at the hands of Gloucester City on Saturday.
Furthermore, Spartans manager Steve Cuggy will be without reliable central defender Wayne Buchanan for three of Blyth’s upcoming fixtures, with the Irishman receiving a straight red card at the Abbey Business Stadium for a second half challenge on Gloucester’s Darren Edwards.
From the very first whistle Gloucester outclassed and out fought their opponents and took a deserved lead on 26 minutes with a fine strike from Tyler Weir.
In the second period goals from Will Morford and Darren Mullings came either side of Buchanan’s sending off before Jake Harris sealed Blyth’s fate with a late strike to complete the rout.
It was a busy afternoon for Spartans goalkeeper David Knight and it started with a superb double save to deny Gloucester’s Adam Mann.
At the other end Richard Offiong broke clear of the Tigers’ back line but couldn’t keep his half volley down from the edge of the area as it sailed over the crossbar.
On 22 minutes the hosts thought they had taken the lead when Mullings slid the ball home at the back post only for the linesman to raise his flag for offside.
There was no dispute four minutes later though when Weir curled an unstoppable effort into Knight’s top corner to put his side ahead.
Blyth managed just one shot on target in the entire first half, with Richie Slaughter stinging the palms of Lewis Carey with a fierce strike from 25 yards.
The home side piled on the pressure in search of a second goal before half-time, with Knight turning a strike from Mann around his post before Buchanan cleared the resultant corner from the danger area.
Spartans produced their only bit of telling football right at the end of the half when Phil Cave crossed for Offiong who supplied Graeme Armstrong, with the striker seeing his shot fly just over Carey’s crossbar.
The visitors started the second half brightly with Slaughter seeing an effort saved by Carey but any hopes of a Spartans revival were soon dashed when Morford dispossessed Buchanan in a dangerous area and ran through to finish past Knight and double Gloucester’s advantage.
Things went from bad to worse for Buchanan and Blyth on 67 minutes when the central defender was sent off by referee Steven Pane for a late challenge on Edwards.
A little harsh perhaps but more rough justice was to follow for Cuggy’s side as the resultant free kick from Mullings deflected off the Blyth wall and looped over Knight for Gloucester’s third goal of the afternoon.
With 20 minutes remaining it was a case of damage limitation for the visitors and substitute Lee Mason was helping the cause with a crucial intervention at the back post to deny Mann the simplest of tap-ins.
Edwards then headed over from close range before Gloucester substitute, Harris compounded Blyth’s misery in added on time with a lofted shot over Knight to make it 4-0
The league table does not make easy reading for Blyth supporters with their side now 2nd bottom of the Blue Square North.
Spartans are in FA cup action on Saturday when they make the trip to Droylsden for a fourth qualifying round tie before two crucial league games at Croft Park the following week against Vauxhall Motors and Colwyn Bay.
Blyth Spartans: Knight, Groves (Robinson), Cave, Tait, Jones, Buchanan, Forster (Mason), Hooks, Armstrong (Taylor), Offiong, Slaughter.