Perfect timing for Wearmouth as Spartans win at Salford

Aaran Wearmouth, who scored Blyth Spartans' late winner at Salford City. Picture by Bill Broadley
Aaran Wearmouth, who scored Blyth Spartans' late winner at Salford City. Picture by Bill Broadley

Blyth Spartans match-winner Arran Wearmouth hopes his first goal of the season to earn his side a late win at Salford City will silence some of his critics.

The former Middlesborough youngster notched his first goal since a strike at Ashton United away in January 2014, a riposte to some light pre-match ribbing from his team-mates.

And it is a goal that keeps them top of the Evo-Stik NPL premier division.

And what timing it was from Wearmouth, with just a minute of three remaining in injury time as the well-marshalled Ammies back four finally gave in to the increasing pressure from Spartans.

The hosts, down to ten men after the dismissal of former Republic of Ireland international Steve O’Halloran, were disciplined and organised in defence but let their concentration levels slip in the 92nd minute as Wearmouth smashed home a rebound at the far post after Dan Maguire had struck the upright with a powerful downward header.

For a contest billed as the game of the night in the premier division, it had looked as if two of the much-fancied sides would be playing out an anti-climax during a first half that never really threatened, nor provided any significant action.

The first chance fell the way of the hosts on the half hour mark as former Manchester United striker Danny Webber tried his luck from the edge of the area. His shot was too hot to handle for Spartans debutant keeper Fabian Otte but the German was quick to pounce on the loose ball.

Within a minute a similar chance fell the way of Spartans as Stephen Turnbull forced Ammies keeper Jay Lynch to parry a low drive. The rebound fell to Maguire but the striker could not rearrange his feet and screwed a shot wide of the near post from around eight yards out.

With half-time approaching the hosts would have went ahead had it not been for a last-ditch block from Matthew Wade. Steve Howson met a Luke Clark free kick at the far post and sent the ball across the six-yard box where City skipper Chris Lynch looked set to tap the ball in from close range, but Wade denied him by scooping the ball over his own bar.

The final minute of the half brought three chances for Spartans, albeit ones that would be classified as half chances at best.

A corner from the left caused issues in the home defence and that created a sight of goal for Michael Richardson, Robbie Dale and Maguire. However, some brave defending from the hosts ensured all three saw their goalbound shots blocked and the stalemate remained intact as referee Robert Sherwood blew for half-time.

The second half provided a bit more entertainment for those inside Moor Lane and within five minutes of the restart Otte had been forced into action.

A blistering drive from a free kick by Luke Clark looked destined to nestle inside the near post but Otte palmed the ball away to safety with not the most conventional of saves but certainly effective nonetheless.

Within two minutes Spartans could and should have been ahead as Richardson broke in behind the Salford back four but could only send a weak shot into the grateful hands of Lynch.

Just before the hour mark the hosts were reduced to ten men as O’Halloran, booked earlier for a challenge on Maguire, was shown a second yellow for a late challenge on Spartans second debutant of the night, Andrew Cartwright.

It was a decision that incurred the wrath of the Moor Lane faithful

Within minutes of O’Halloran’s dismissal there was a second flashpoint in the game.

Again Cartwright was involved as Ammies substitute Elliot Kebbie was brought down by Dillon Morse, a challenge that saw the centre back find his name in the referee’s notebook.

Cartwright and Kebbie were involved in some pushing and shoving, both joining Morse in the book, with the home support demanding a more strict punishment to be handed out to former Sunderland academy full back Cartwright.

With 15 minutes left on the clock Spartans had the best chance yet to break the deadlock.

Alex Nicholson combined well with Cartwright on the right hand side of the area but his angled drive across the face of goal whizzed past the far post and out for a goal kick.

The winner came with the old mantra of better late than never.

Cartwright burst down the right hand and curled a sublime cross into the area that evaded the Ammies back four and allowed Maguire to head goalwards. He saw his downward header hit the post but Wearmouth was on hand to smash the ball into the net before taking the acclaim of team-mates and Spartans supporters alike.

Spartans take a break from league action as they travel to Spennymoor Town in the FA Cup first qualifying round on Saturday.

Blyth Spartans: Otte, Cartwright, Watson, Hutchinson, Morse, Turnbull, Richardson (Reid 70), Nicholson (Wearmouth 77), Maguire, Wade (Hooks 83), Dale Subs not used: Mullen, Parker.

Attendance: 500.