New boss claims first three pointer as Blyth Spartans end five-game run without win

Blyth Spartans' Matty Pattison. Picture by Bill Broadley
Blyth Spartans' Matty Pattison. Picture by Bill Broadley

Blyth Spartans’ scintillating first half display saw them end their five-game winning drought as Alun Armstrong claimed his first three pointer as boss with a 3-0 victory over Mickleover Sports.

Luke Armstrong was the lucky benefactor from Nathan Buddle’s header as it was diverted into the goal via the leg of the manager’s son, before Matty Pattison produced a spectacular finish to put Blyth 2-0 up after just 22 minutes.

Jarrett Rivers then profited from a dreadful defensive mix-up five minutes later to wrap up their first three points in four Evo-Stik Premier League clashes.

Blyth had failed to get out of the blocks in Tuesday’s 3-0 defeat against Warrington Town, but they flew out of the traps on Saturday and dominated the opening exchanges.

Referee Shane Sugden made sure he would stand for no nonsense either when, within 60 seconds of the start, Kevin Grocott caught Robert Dale late. The Mickleover midfielder was told that was his one chance.

Dale then found Pablo Mills wanting for pace down the left before his cross was deflected behind for the first of a succession of corners in the first five minutes.

That resulting set-piece saw Buddle free in the box. His first effort was blocked, but his second attempt had to be clawed off the line by Jake Eastwood and lifted over the bar to safety.

Pattison tried his luck from a free kick, but a deflection for yet another corner led to the game’s opening goal.

Buddle was once again picked out at the back post from Pattison’s corner and powered a header down and the ball bounced onto Armstrong’s leg and nestled in the back of the net.

If Spartans were lucky with their first goal, then their second seven minutes later was real quality.

Pattison picked up the ball 25 yards out and unleashed an unstoppable rocket at goal which gave Eastwood no chance as it bounced in off the post to give the former South Africa international his fifth of the season.

While Armstrong profited from being in the right place at the right time, he was desperately unlucky not to double his tally on 24 minutes. The young forward turned his man and tried to curl one inside the far post, but his shot went just wide.

With Spartans completely in the ascendancy, Sports were failing to deal with the pressure and it showed as Blyth scored their third three minutes before the half-hour mark.

Dale had tried to pick out Sean Reid at the back post with a cross that had Eastwood panicking. A defensive mix-up between the goalkeeper and Mills saw the defender tap the ball down straight into the path of Rivers, who was left with the simplest of tasks to roll the ball into an empty net.

Reid then nearly made the most of another Mickleover mess up on 32 minutes as he picked up Tom Burgin’s poor header back to get himself in one-on-one in the box. Reid tried to pick his spot but was denied by a fantastic save by Eastwood, who had spread himself well to save with his foot.

Burgin then made another mistake at the back two minutes later when the Mickleover captain caught Buddle in the box while trying to clear the ball. However, he had his goalkeeper to thank as Eastwood got down well to his left to keep out Pattison’s penalty.

Armstrong picked up the ball from another suspect back pass moments after that and cut in between the two Sports centre backs. Despite looking certain to score, Eastwood was able to produce another instinctive stop.

With Spartans well on top, Reid was unlucky not to join his teammates on the scoresheet with six minutes left of the first half as he fired one just wide of Eastwood’s right post.

Mickleover came out to try and play themselves back into the contest in the second half, but it was Blyth that went closest to extending their advantage with the first real chance after the break.

A lovely bit of possession football from the home side ended up with Armstrong trying his luck inside the box, but under pressure from two, his goal-bound effort was blocked behind.

Mickleover continued to work hard and their efforts were nearly rewarded with a goal when former Crystal Palace, Birmingham City and Coventry City striker Clinton Morrison played the ball back to John McGrath at the edge of the Blyth box. McGrath tried to curl an audacious effort into the top corner, but it was blocked behind for a corner.

While it was all-action in the first half, the second 45 was less inspired for those in attendance at Croft Park and chances were at a premium, while the most action seemed to come from the whistle of Sugden.

However, with the game approaching the final 15 minutes, Blyth turned on the style once again and should really have seen their fantastic counter-attacking football rewarded with a fourth goal.

Great link-up play between Armstrong and Reid saw the former play a ball across the box to the 24-year-old. Reid tried to place it into the bottom corner, but yet another block denied Spartans from scoring.

A result that finally saw Blyth return to winning ways for the first time since a 1-0 win over Marine on September 13 will certainly give Armstrong’s side added confidence, ahead of Tuesday’s trip to Matlock Town.

Blyth Spartans: McHugh, Cartwright, Liddle, Buddle, Hutchinson, Wade, Rivers, Pattison (Turnbull 69), Armstrong (Nicholson 75), Reid, Dale (Richardson 82). Subs not used: Bell, Pell.

Attendance: 501.