Blyth Spartans repeated last season’s win over Ilkeston on Tuesday night and in the process proved that some lessons have been learnt.
Having thrown away a two-goal lead earlier in the season at home to Worksop Town, a more mature and professional Spartans side saw out the Ilkeston game to put Saturday’s defeat at Skelmersdale United firmly behind them.
The night began on a poignant and respectful note as Spartans paid respect to former striker Scott Bell after he sadly passed away after a long battle with motor neurone disease recently.
It was the visitors who had the first chance of the night as the impressive Jason Stokes ghosted past Phil Airey and into the box and his whipped cross found Kane Richards but the livewire striker could only send a snapshot past Michal Misiewicz’s near post from ten yards out.
That miss was punished by the home side minutes later and it was a goal from a familiar source, the penalty spot.
Wonderful link up play between Dan Maguire and Lewis Horner released Arron Wearmouth into the area. His run was illegally halted by Matt Baker and Craig Hubbard made it four goals in three days in sending Lloyd Allinson the wrong way from 12 yards.
The visitors hit back with what must surely be one of the most spectacular goals seen at Croft Park for many a year.
Laurie Wilson – son of former Barnsley and Sheffield United manager Danny Wilson – struck a first time effort from just inside his own half that sailed over Misiewicz and into the net.
Technique, accuracy and confidence that had even the Green Army applauding.
With both teams set to continue attacking it was surprising that between them they only created one real chance before the interval, and it fell to Ilkeston. A clever ball inside Airey released Stokes in on goal but as Misiewicz advanced he could only chip over the bar and the sides went into the interval on level terms.
With the words of Tom Wade and Colin Myers ringing in their ears, Spartans started the second half like a runaway train.
Their passing and movement had Ilkeston chasing shadows as times and within three minutes they had the lead once again.
The irrepressible Wearmouth fired a vicious volley in from the left that Maguire did well to flick over Allinson and into the net from eight yards.
Maguire was unfortunate to not double his own tally minutes later as he seized on a loose ball after Allinson flapped at a Horner cross, but the Spartans striker saw his instinctive header cleared off the line by Baker.
But Maguire could not be denied as ten minutes into the half he grabbed his second, but it owed much to the hard work and skill of strike partner Ash Davis.
Chasing down a loose ball on the left of the Ilkeston area, Davis held off Joe Maguire before lashing a cross into the six-yard box that was enough to take the Robins defence out of the game and leave Maguire with a simple finish.
Game over? Of course not and with 15 minutes left it was very much game on.
A tricky run into the Spartans area saw Kane Richards brought down by Lewis Horner and Arron Webster struck the spot kick straight down the middle to set up a grandstand finish.
In reality, though, that never came and apart from a golden chance for James Reid - who fired over from a Richards cross from eight yards out - Spartans saw out time impressively to seal three points.
They did have to rely on a brave block from Nathan Buddle after Robins substitute Chettle had crashed a shot goalwards from the edge of the box. Buddle’s block was as good as a goal and it made sure Spartans got back on track after Saturday’s unfortunate loss in Lancashire, moving up to fourth in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League in the process.
Next up for Spartans is an FA Trophy tie at Croft Park on Saturday as they look for revenge against Skelmersdale United.
Wade will hope his side deliver the passion, commitment and not to mention the finishing they showed against Ilkeston and start handing out lessons rather than learning them for themselves.
Spartans’ man of the match: Dan Maguire.
Blyth Spartans: Misiweicz, Airey, Purewal, Buddle, Watson, Mullen, Horner, Hubbard (Cummings 53), Wearmouth (Holmes 70), Davis, Maguire. Subs not used: Parker, Kendrick, Wade.