BLYTH Spartans brought the curtain down on their pre-season campaign with a hastily arranged friendly against a Newcastle United XI made up of academy players at the Premier League club’s Darsley Park facility.
In a game scheduled to last 60 minutes, Spartans finished the initial period 2-1 to the good with goals from Ash Davies and a second pre-season strike for Jordon Mellish.
The hosts requested another 15 minutes to be played to enable them to give some more players game time and it was United who ran out winners as goals from Greg Olley and Daniel Barlasser were added to a first half header from Jonathyn Quinn to give the Magpies a 3-2 win.
As expected, the pitch at Darsley Park was in superb condition and both sides took advantage in a first half littered with good, quick passing and Spartans more than matched their hosts.
It only took five minutes for Tommy Cassidy’s side to take the lead when a passing move through midfield enabled Craig Farrell and Davies to combine well, and it was the latter who calmly rolled the ball past Newcastle keeper Mitchell.
It took until midway through the first period for the hosts to create a decent chance, and a one-two between Lopez and Gillead released England Under-17 striker Gillead, but he only managed to screw his shot wide of Conor Grant’s goal.
On 17 minutes Spartans came close to doubling their lead when Joe Kendrick struck a left footed effort narrowly wide from distance.
However two minutes before the scheduled half-time the Magpies levelled.
Spartans wasted three opportunities to clear corners and when a ball was crossed by Colombian born winger Lopez, Quinn rose highest to head past Grant and ensure the sides went into the break level ... or so everyone thought.
From the kick-off, Davies won Spartans a corner and the kick was struck well to the far post by Robbie Dale to find Mellish, and the former Hartlepool United centre back got between two defenders and headed into the net to give Spartans a 2-1 lead at half-time.
A lively start to the second half saw Logan go close with a chance for Newcastle but Grant saved well and Kendrick cleared the loose ball.
Ten minutes in and Spartans should have extended their lead when a Kendrick free kick was met well by Mellish and his header crashed off the bar.
Newcastle then started to get their passing game going but for all their posession did not really test Grant and Spartans were slightly on top in terms of clear cut chances.
It was the once again impressive Tom Berj who had the next chance when he ran onto a Dale flick but Berj was denied by a last minute tackle by Magpies defender Lee Desmond.
The final chance of the initial game fell to Berj when the diminutive midfielder met a Dale corner and his flicked header hit the far post and Wayne Buchanan fired over the rebound and Spartans finished the second period 2-1 up.
The additional 15 minutes were all about the Magpies, though, and their pace and control took over the game.
Five minutes into the third period a Steven Logan cross found an unmarked Barlassa who finished well past Grant.
With a second left on the clock the hosts won the game when a Logan shot from distance could only be parried by Grant and first to the rebound was Olley to tuck the ball into an empty net.
So that’s pre-season over now for Spartans and next up is the season opener in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League when they travel to Witton Albion next Saturday.