More goals for Croft Park faithful as Blyth beat Benfield

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There was an abundance of goals at Croft Park last week with 16 scored in three pre-season fixtures.

And it was Spartans who ran out 4-2 victors in their penultimate warm-up match against Newcastle Benfield on Saturday.

In an entertaining fixture, goals from Rob Nolan, Dan Maguire, Craig Hubbard and Robbie Dale ensured that Tom Wade’s side put Tuesday’s poor 4-1 home defeat to Morpeth Town behind them.

But it was the visitors who should have taken the lead in the first minute as Dan Parker was caught in possession and that allowed Steve Bowey the chance to roll the ball past Conor Grant.

However the Benfield player manager was unable to get sufficient contact on the ball and Nathan Buddle cleared.

Spartans hit straight back as a superb cross field ball from the returning Neal Hooks saw Maguire take a step inside his marker and crash a low effort that was well saved by Benfield’s trialist keeper.

But the Northern League side took the lead in the 13th minute when the impressive Horner broke into the area and was clipped by Matthew Wade. A spot kick was awarded and Bowey sent Grant the wrong way to put his side ahead.

Midway through the half Spartans equalised and it was a goal that showed both sides of what the coaching side are trying to get out of the team this season.

The strength and determination of Hubbard in midfield saw him release Dale on the left and he sent a cultured through ball to Nolan who calmly rolled it past the keeper with the visitors claiming offside.

Dale was at the heart of the chance that nearly put his side ahead just after with a superb cross field ball to Damen Mullen. The full back was denied a second pre-season goal as the visitors keeper produced a smart stop.

Benfield regained the lead on the half hour mark as Baptiste blasted into the far corner from just inside the box after Benjamin had laid off to him.

But it would not take long for an equaliser to come and it was the ever impressive Maguire who got Spartans on level terms.

He curled a fantastic 20-yard effort into the top corner after picking up on a loose ball on the edge of the Benfield box.

Spartans made the half-time team talk a little easier for Tom Wade by taking the lead on the stroke of the interval.

Midfield is being looked at as a key part of any Spartans success this season and the trio of Hooks, Wade and Hubbard all played a part.

A superb piece of link up play between Hooks and Wade saw the former cross from the left to find Hubbard who impressively cushioned a volley into the top corner to round off an entertaining first half.

Benfield could have got back on level terms within five minutes of the second half and it was no surprise it was Horner who was the dangerman.

The midfielder clipped the top of the Spartans bar from around 20 yards with a neat curling effort.

Five minutes later, though, Spartans extended their lead with another top class finish.

Just moments after being pushed up front, Dale embarrassed Patterson on the left side of the box and blasted low into the far corner, leaving the keeper grasping at thin air.

Spartans were playing some good football without really looking like extending their lead further, but they were in control of the game.

The only real danger of the second period was a rising shot from Benjamin that saw Spartans trialist keeper produce any impressive stop, tipping past the near post.

The final chance of the game came right on full-time as Dale robbed Talbot on the touchline and fed Mason in the box. The winger span his man and crashed the crossbar from around ten yards with the whistle blowing soon after to round off a satisfying win and performance for Spartans.

Blyth now head into their final pre-season fixture when Darlington 1883 visit Croft Park on Friday night as final preparations are made for the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League campaign are made.

Blyth Spartans: Grant, Mullen, Parker, Buddle, Kendrick, Wade, Hubbard, Hooks, Maguire, Dale, Nolan Subs: Mason, Tobin, Cummings, Purewal, Airey, Trialist.

Attendance: 155.