Early Mullen goal enough to earn Spartans points

Eastwood defender Gary Breach gets a foot in to stop Damon Mullen's run. Picture by Bill Broadley.
Eastwood defender Gary Breach gets a foot in to stop Damon Mullen's run. Picture by Bill Broadley.

WHILST the fire alarm bells may have been ringing at Croft Park early on Saturday it was nothing to do with Spartans as they kept the home fires burning and extended their unbeaten home run to six games with a 1-0 win over bottom club Eastwood Town.

It may not have been a performance that could get described as red hot or smoking but it did mean that the recent upturn in form under managerial duo Paddy Atkinson and Tom Wade was maintained.

It was a win that saw Spartans move into ninth position in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League, six points from a play-off spot and with games in hand on all but one of the teams above them.

The game burst into life as early as the seventh minute as Spartans took the lead with a goal that was testament to the confidence and new passing style the now permanent managerial team have installed into their players.

The once again impressive Neal Hooks won the ball in midfield and played it to the left hand side where he found Damon Mullen.

And his ball in found the on-rushing Joe Kendrick and the left back made no mistake from ten yards as he fired past Stainsby in the visitors goal.

The game was disrupted by a clash of heads between Spartans skipper Wayne Buchanan and Badgers striker Ewan Clarke, and it was a clash that ended with Buchanan with his head bandaged.

It was a first half that really was all about Atkinson’s side and whilst they did have a lot more possession they could not force a second goal.

Shaun Vipond went closest as his linked up well with Ryan McGorrigan and Lee Mason but the former’s volley dipped narrowly wide.

It took 20 minutes into the second half for the first major chance as Spartans substitute Phil Airey forced the Badgers keeper into a smart stop with a header from a Mason cross.

However, minutes later Ryan McGorrigan caught Joshua Raven with a stray arm and he received a straight red card.

Within minutes the visitors had two chances as Conor Grant was forced into a smart stop then Mullen headed a Mitchell Hanson header off the line.

Spartans never looked in trouble from there, and late in the game substitute Petter Aaser was dismissed for a crazy lunge on Tom Berj.

On Saturday Nantwich Town visit Croft Park.

Blyth Spartans: Grant, Slaughter, Kendrick, Vipond, Buchanan, Donnelly (Airey 54), Mason (Berj 83), Hooks, McGorrigan, Mullen, Dale (Stanger 72) Subs not used: Maguire, Mellish.

Attendance: 264.