Late winner sees Blyth Spartans maintain lead at top of table

Matty Wade heads home what proved to be the winning goal for Blyth Spartans.
Matty Wade heads home what proved to be the winning goal for Blyth Spartans.
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A header from Matty Wade in the closing minutes secured Blyth Spartans all three points from their trip to Nantwich Town on Saturday.

The visitors had to come fromn behind to gain the win and maintain their advantage at the top of the Evo-Stik premier division.

The home side, who went into the game in fourth place, took an early lead with a deflected goal, but a first half equaliser from Nathan Buddle brought them level before Wade scored the winner.

Blyth gave 21-year-old Wilson Kneeshaw his league debut as a lone central striker.

Nantwich were out of the blocks the quicker than the visitors, who had endured a journey just short of five hours. Josh Hancock dummied and allowed overlapping full back Lewis Short to fire just over the Blyth bar.

The Dabbers took the lead on six minutes when Elliott Osborne picked out Andy White and the full back fired first time and his shot took a deflection and wrong-footed Adam McHugh in the Blyth goal.

It took 15 minutes before Spartans were able to establish a foot-hold in the game.

Captain Robbie Dale first found Kneeshaw ten yards out but his shot was blocked and cleared by White.

Kneeshaw was again involved when a ball from Paul Robinson gave him the chance to shoot again but this time his effort was well saved by home keeper Terry Smith.

Blyth deservedly got on level terms on 23 minutes when a deep Dale cross was expertly headed back across goal by Matty Wade into the path of Buddle and he fired home from five yards.

Within minutes Blyth were claiming a penalty when Kneeshaw appeared to be barged down in the box, but the appeals were waved away.

Blyth upped the pace and a Robinson shot was saved by Smith before a Dale effort was well blocked and Kneeshaw came close but was denied by a brave save at his feet by the busy Smith.

It was the visitors who had the first opportunity after the interval when Kneeshaw laid the ball off to Michael Richardson but he scuffed his shot and the danger was cleared.

Nantwich went on to dominate the next 15 minutes. Liam Shotton found himself in space and his shot was somehow cleared off McHugh’s line and away for a corner.

The host’s pressure was short lived, however, and McHugh went on to have a quiet time of things.

On 75 minutes a Dale free kick found the head of Buddle who headed narrowly wide.

A delicious flick by Dale put Aaron Wearmouth clear and his cross was about to be met by Richardson at the far post but he was bundled over and the referee signalled for a penalty.

Dale stepped up but his low effort was palmed away by Smith. The Blyth skipper reacted sharply but his second attempt at goal was parried away once more by Smith into the path of Blyth’s Damen Mullen whose shot was cleared off the line.

Despite the set back Spartans continued to pour forward while also remaining aware of the danger posed by the Dabbers’ speedy breakaways as Blyth’s vigilant back four were proving impenetrable.

Richardson had a shot blocked before a Buddle effort was cleared off the goal line.

Blyth’s pressure told on 84 minutes when a beautifully flighted Dale corner was met at the far post by a towering header from Wade which rocketed in to the top corner of the net to give the visitors the lead.

Blyth then went on to see out the five minutes of added time to record a fine victory over a good Nantwich side.

Blyth take on Salford City on Tuesday, January 26, at Croft Park, kick-off 7.45pm, before Grantham are the visitors on Saturday, January 30, kick-off 3pm.

Blyth Spartans: A McHugh, A Nicholson, J Watson, N Buddle, R Hutchinson, N Hooks (D Mullen 64), M Richardson, P Robinson (A Wearmouth 59), W Kneeshaw, M Wade, R Dale. Subs not used: D Morse, D Parker, A Davis.

Attendance: 464.