Missed chances prove costly to Blyth Spartans at Trafford

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Two goals from striker Brett Mbalanda meant that Trafford took revenge on Blyth Spartans for their early season defeat in Northumberland.

It was, however, a day that Tom Wade’s side will look back on as a missed opportunity to take at least a point before the hectic Christmas period kicks in with several good chances wasted.

As early as the fourth minute Paul Robinson passed up a golden chance to give his side the perfect start on a blustery day in Lancashire.

The former Whitley Bay midfielder released Robbie Dale down the left and when the winger returned the favour Robinson could only crash a low effort wide of the near post from 12 yards.

The early stages saw plenty of possession without anything to show for it and just after the quarter hour mark Spartans were hit by a sucker punch.

North captain Martyn Andrews broke away from the centre of midfielder and rolled the ball to winger Paul Ashton. He advanced into the area and was closed down by Ryan Cummings, but before the Spartans man could make a block Ashton smashed an effort across goal and off the inside of the far post. The ball rolled along the line and struck the other post before Brett Mbalanda tapped home from on the line.

Dan Maguire could and should have got Spartans back on level terms just three minutes after the opener.

The striker was played in on goal by a perfect slide rule pass from Robinson but screwed a left foot effort past the near post.

As the half went on the conditions took control with chances few and far between.

Only a speculative 30-yard free kick from Andrews was worthy of note and Spartans went into the break a goal behind.

Within ten minutes of the restart Mbalanda doubled his own tally and his side’s lead.

A Misiewicz clearance was headed back towards the Spartans area and that released the powerful forward in on goal, and he calmly skipped around the keeper and rolled the ball into an empty net.

To Spartans credit they kept playing some of their most impressive football of the season and a reward seemed to be coming as they built up some sustained pressure.

That reward came with 22 minutes left when Ian Watson found Dale inside the area and his flick bounced between Maguire and home keeper Tom Read with the Spartans man winning the race and tapping into the net.

It was a case of game on and just four minutes later Dale came within a whisker of an equaliser.

Finding some space on the left side of the area the winger cut inside Callum Jones before curling a wonderful right foot curler on to the far post. The loose ball found it’s way back to Dale who calmly rolled back to Robinson on the edge of the box but the midfielder could only smash over the bar.

With five minutes left you got the impression it was not to be Spartans’ day as two more chances went begging.

Substitute Matthew Wade was played into the right side of the area by Neal Hooks but saw Read smother his low shot, and Cummings could only divert a scuffed Robinson strike wide of the near post.

Despite five minutes of added on time Spartans could not force an equaliser that would have been deserved.

However missed chances cost them and they will now look to give the Green Army an early Christmas present when Stamford come to Croft Park on Saturday.

Spartans’ man of the match: Dan Maguire.

Attendance: 201.

Blyth Spartans: Misiewicz, Cummings, Watson, Buddle, Parker, Hubbard (Wade 80), Hooks, Horner (Kendrick 67), Maguire, Robinson, Dale. Subs not used: Mullen, Grant, Purewal.