Blyth Spartans returned to winning ways on Saturday afternoon, with a professional performance that saw them edge a 1-0 win over a battling Leamington side.
In an unusually goal-shy game at Croft Park in recent times, Spartans had visiting defender Junior English to thank for the three points - after he turned Robert Dale’s cross into his own net 20 minutes in.
A resolute Spartans were pushed all the way by their Midlands-based opponents, but they did just enough to claim their 11th win from 18 games so far in the Vanarama National League North this season.
Alun Armstrong made three changes to the side that was comprehensively beaten 4-1 by Bradford Park Avenue seven days earlier, with Michael Liddle’s selection seeing him make his 50th appearance for the club. David Atkinson made his first start since returning to the club from IBV Vestmannaeyjar in Iceland, while Damen Mullen also returned to the starting line-up.
Leamington had a 230-mile trip to get to Croft Park, but they didn’t look to be suffering any sort of travel tiredness - as they nearly took an early lead with just four minutes gone.
The ball bobbled about in the box following the initial clearance from Kaine Felix’s corner and into the path of Liam Canavan, who was denied a certain goal by an instinctive diving save from Peter Jameson.
What proved to be the only goal of the game came following aMichael Liddle’s quick throw which released an advancing Dale, whose good run down the left saw him into the box. The Blyth captain’s low cross flew across the box and bounced off the body of English, who could only watch as he diverted the ball into the roof of his own net.
Dale looked to increase the lead with a 35 yard effort which just cleared the crossbar, whilst Adam Wrightson dragged a shot wide.
Leamington started the second half the brighter of the two sides and put some pressure on the Blyth defence
Substitute Greg Rutherford had the ball in the net in injury time, but he was denied his first goal for the club when an offside flag was raised.
Next Saturday, Blyth travel to Southport when they will be looking for back to back victories, kick-off 3pm.