Drab display from struggling teams

AFTER their relegation from the Blue Square Bet North was confirmed with Saturday’s 3-2 defeat at home to Gainsborough Trinity, Blyth Spartans rounded off their Easter weekend with a trip to North Yorkshire on Monday which resulted in a miserable goalless draw with Harrogate Town.

Dreary conditions at Harrogate’s Wetherby Road summed up a game in which two poor sides slogged it out for the entirety of the contest, making it painful viewing for the 425 supporters in attendance – which included a large following from Blyth.

Spartans manager Tommy Cassidy is now faced with the task of assembling a team worthy of such loyal backing from the terraces and one capable of bouncing back at the first time of asking.

There’s still a chance that Harrogate Town could also find themselves in the Evo-Stik Premier Division next season as they linger precariously just two places above the Blue Square Bet North drop zone.

The hosts showed a greater urgency in the opening exchanges and Spartans goalkeeper David Knight was called into action after just two minutes when he saved a header from Paul Beesley.

This was followed by a 25-yard strike by Luke Dean, which drifted just wide of the upright.

At the other end, Wayne Phillips surged towards the Harrogate area before blazing over with a left-footed effort from 20 yards.

Robert Dale then had Blyth’s best chance of the half when his lofted shot from just inside the area was tipped over the crossbar by Mark Cook.

And that was pretty much all that either side could muster before the interval in an uninspiring 45 minutes of football.

The visitors stepped up a gear after the break with Dale working his magic down the right by skipping past two Harrogate players before laying the ball off to Glen Taylor, who blazed over from 16 yards.

Dale then appeared to have a golden opportunity to open the scoring when he connected to a cross from Phillips with his head, only for former Spartans defender Alan White to deflect the ball over for a corner.

Two substitutes combined on 78 minutes to fashion Harrogate’s first meaningful chance of the half when Robbie Youhill supplied Chib Chilaka in the area – with the striker failing to beat Knight from six yards out.

Chikara was denied by Knight again two minutes later when he connected with a volley on the turn only for the goalkeeper to produce a brilliant point-blank save.

Spartans should have snatched victory at the death when a deep ball by Phillips was headed across the goalmouth by Lee Mason and helped into the path of Graeme Armstrong by Neal Hooks but the striker failed to hit the target when eight yards from goal.

Blyth Spartans: Knight, Groves, Kendrick, Hodgson, Buchanan, Jones, Taylor (Mason), Ferrell (Hooks), Armstrong, Dale, Phillips. Man of the match: Jones

Attendance: 425.