Spartans come from two down to end season on a high

Blyth Spartans’ final contest of the 2013-14 campaign at Stamford was far from a typical end of season game as it produced a seven-goal thriller.

Tom Wade’s side overturned a two-goal deficit to seal three points and in the process secure eighth place in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League table.

The three points came at a cost, however, as goalkeeper Conor Grant spent the night in a Grantham Hospital with a dislocated shoulder.

The game was played out in front of a strong travelling contingent of the Green Army, who gave their side vociferous backing throughout the 90 minutes.

They had plenty to shout about on 11 minutes as Matthew Wade handed them the perfect start.

The midfielder headed home a Damen Mullen corner kick from the right for his sixth goal of a strong debut season at the club.

But Spartans were pegged back in the 20th minute as a diving header from Daniels captain Jordan Smith flew past Grant.

On the half hour things got worse for Spartans as two goals in three minutes seemed to take the game away from them.

Firstly Jon Challinor won a ball from Lewis Horner in midfield and found fellow midfielder Ashley Robinson who crashed a volley past Grant from just inside the area to give his side the lead.

Then just two minutes later Challinor himself got on the scoresheet with a volley of his own that took a big deflection leaving Grant stranded.

A crazy few minutes was rounded off on 34 minutes as Spartans got back into the game thanks to Dan Maguire’s 27th goal of the season, although it owed much to the hard work and persistence of Arran Wearmouth.

The former Bishop Auckland man broke down the left and danced past Lewis Carr before firing a cross into the near post that was met by a deft flick from Maguire that took the ball past Will Jones before he could even react.

Buoyed by that goal, Spartans put the home side under serious pressure and three minutes before the break they were back on level terms.

A header from Mullen released Maguire in on goal but his shot was saved by Jones, however, the loose ball ran to Wearmouth who tapped home into an empty net.

Maguire almost had his second on the stroke of half-time but Jones managed to stop his low drive from the edge of the box.

Joe Kendrick had the first chance of the second period just five minutes in.

The left back struck a low, curling free kick from around 20 yards that was well saved by Jones at his near post.

Just after the hour mark Spartans were dealt a severe blow with the loss of Grant with a dislocated shoulder.

The keeper denied Nabil Shariff from close range with an outstanding stop but collided with the goal post and had to be taken off.

With no substitute goalkeeper, Robbie Dale donned the keeper top for the second time this season with Paul Robinson coming off the bench to take Dale’s position on the left.

That change actually paid dividends just a minute later.

A neat through ball from Wade was dummied by Wearmouth to release Robinson into the left hand side of the area, and the midfielder coolly rolled the ball into the far corner to put his side in front for the first time since Wade’s opener and completed a turnaround that few had seen coming.

Spartans almost increased their lead as Mullen stung the hands of Jones with a rasping 20-yard volley that the host’s number one did well to parry around the post.

The resulting corner kick came to nothing and was cleared easily, so much so in fact it led to Shariff breaking the offside trap to go in on goal, but the big midfielder was forced wide by replacement stopper Dale who then challenged him to put the ball out for a corner.

The last ten minutes were seen out by Spartans with Dale looking cool and calm in between the sticks taking crosses, punching and easily picking off shots from distance that never really tested him.

As referee Plowright blew the whistle after six minutes of injury time, Spartans completed the double over Stamford and ensured they broke through the 70-point barrier for the first time in eight seasons.

After the game Tom Wade, Colin Myers and the players went to the Green Army to thank them for their support not only during the game but throughout the season.

It has been a season of solid progress for Spartans and the foundations are in place for another big push next season.

Spartans’ man of the match was Arran Wearmouth.

Blyth Spartans: Grant (Robinson 62), Purewal, Buddle, Parker, Kendrick, Wade, Mullen, Horner (Watson 73) Maguire, Wearmouth (Hooks 82), Dale Subs not used: Bonket, Cummings.

Attendance: 449.