Late penalty secures opening day win for Spartans

Barwell's Scott Lowers fouls Dan Maguire in the box and concedes the penalty which saw Blyth Spartans secure the win and Lowers a red card. Picture by John Hague
Barwell's Scott Lowers fouls Dan Maguire in the box and concedes the penalty which saw Blyth Spartans secure the win and Lowers a red card. Picture by John Hague
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Blyth Spartans opened their Evo-Stik Northern Premier League account with a late Stephen Turnbull penalty earning them a 1-0 win at Barwell.

There were just five minutes left on the clock when Jordan Watson broke forward from left back before releasing substitute Dan Maguire in on goal with an inch-perfect through ball.

The striker looked set to grab the headlines but was caught by a challenge from Canaries right back Scott Lower, who was promptly shown a red card and a penalty was awarded.

Turnbull was the man who sealed the three points as he stepped up to take the spot kick, sending Canaries keeper Liam Castle the wrong way in front of an impressive and noisy band of travelling supporters.

Blyth boss Tom Wade handed a start to one of his six summer additions, Paul Robinson, as the midfielder made his second debut for the club after returning to Croft Park from Whitley Bay.

Three further recruits had to make do with a place on the bench as Dillon Morse, Tom McNamee and Maguire were named among the substitutes.

Spartans started well but a mixture of wayward finishing and impressive goalkeeping from Castle prevented them from taking the lead.

With 11 minutes on the clock it would not have been fanciful to suggest that Wade’s side could have been three goals to the good.

Robbie Dale sent an awkward looking volley wide from 15 yards with just five minutes gone before Arran Wearmouth should have given his side the lead after racing on to a Dale flick. The former Bishop Auckland forward could only volley over the bar with Canaries number one Castle advancing on him.

The final chance of the opening spell fell to Robinson as he found himself in acres of space inside the area after a perfectly-weighted pass from Michael Richardson released him. The midfielder side-footed a shot that seemed destined for the far corner but Castle got fingertips to send the ball around the post and out for a corner.

The game settled as Spartans reflected on three good chances to take the lead. Perhaps buoyed by their visitors inability to do so, the home side came into the game as the half hour mark approached.

Veteran striker Iyseden Christie collected a pass into the Spartans area before spinning and firing an angled shot past Nick Thomson’s far post from around ten yards out.

The former Coventry City front man was to have the final chance of the half as the pressure increased on the Spartans back line

A high, hanging cross from Canaries right back Scott Lower found its way to the far post where Christie could only head, unmarked, into the side-netting.

The second half followed a familiar pattern but it was the introduction of Maguire that was the catalyst for a Spartans win.

That is not to underplay the role played by Wearmouth as the youngster can reflect on an impressive hour leading the line as he was a constant thorn in the side of the host’s defenders.

Within minutes of his introduction, Maguire had made an impact, albeit one without reward.

Chasing a long ball down the left hand channel the striker outpaced two defenders and found some space inside the Canaries area. He got his head up before rolling back to the edge of the area to find the advancing Alex Nicholson but the defender smashed a low drive wide of Castle’s far post.

You could not keep Maguire out of the game and with five minutes left on the clock he was released in on goal by a sublime ball from Watson. Just as Maguire seemed set to seal a perfect return to Spartans he was clipped by Scott Lower.

The defender was dismissed by referee Sean Richardson and Turnbull dispatched the resultant spot kick, his seventh successful penalty in a row.

Pressure came from the home side as they looked to snatch a point, but the Spartans back four and goalkeeper Nick Thomson stood up well to the increasingly direct style of play.

Spartans now look to build on the win with their opening home fixture of the league season on Tuesday night when Whitby Town are the visitors to Croft Park.

Blyth Spartans: Thomson, Nicholson (Morse 88), Watson, Hutchinson, Parker, Turnbull, Richardson, Robinson (Mullen 52), Wearmouth (Maguire 63), Wade, Dale. Subs not used: Bramley, McNamee.

Attendance: 227.