Spartans lose two goal lead to Robins

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A FREE kick deep into stoppage time denied Blyth Spartans FC a pre-season victory against North Shields as the home side fought back from 0-2 down.

The Robins’ rousing second half display culminated in a rasping Keith Douglas free kick which sent the home followers into raptures as they ended all square with the Blue Square Bet North visitors.

Former Spartan Paul Watson lined up in the Shields ranks, but another ex-Blyth player in Andy Wright was unavailable.

Blyth held the upper hand for much of the first period and went ahead after 17 minutes when midfielder Shaun Vipond unleashed a 25-yarder that gave home keeper Michael Robinson no chance.

That lead was increased just before the half hour mark when former Hartlepool United player Lee Mason profited from a defensive slip to tuck the ball home.

Spartans centre-forward and new acquisition Graeme Armstrong drove over the top.

He then spurned an even better opportunity to make it three when his side were handed a soft penalty award, but he drilled the spot kick wide of the upright.

Shields barely threatened in the first period with a low Douglas drive their only test of the Spartans custodian.

However, it was a different story on the turnaround with Robins’ team boss Anthony Woodhouse adopting a change in formation then being impressed by his side’s attitude.

Blyth still looked dangerous in patches, striking the crossbar and forcing Robinson into a brilliant touch round the post but, as the half wore on, the Shieldsmen began to get on top.

Douglas saw a goalbound effort frantically blocked with Mark Rasmussen cracking the rebound inches wide before he instigated a flowing move with 13 minutes remaining and Craig Deighton’s perfect cross from the left was coolly slotted in by Paul Gordon.

Steve Cuggy’s men were clearly rattled but must still have thought they would hang on for a win until, with seconds remaining, up stepped Douglas to bulge the net and the celebrations began.