Blyth Spartans overcame a stubborn Stocksbridge Park Steels outfit and the elements on a bleak New Year’s Day at Croft Park.
Goals from Paul Robinson, Dan Maguire and a first of the season for midfielder Neal Hooks meant that Tom Wade’s side rounded off the holiday period with nine points from a possible 12.
With injuries mounting up there was one change for the home side from Saturday’s win over Barwell with Matthew Wade replacing Damen Mullen in midfield.
A lightening quick start to the game from Spartans almost saw them take the lead within the first 20 seconds.
Hooks and Maguire combined to release Craig Hubbard in on goal but the ten-goal midfielder could only screw a shot well wide of Jack Ward’s far post.
The pressure was maintained and midway through the half Robinson crashed a 20- yard effort over the bar after Brett Bowden-Lovell had cleared a Robbie Dale free kick.
Slowly but surely the conditions take over and with a high wind and driving wind to contend with the play slowed down.
To their credit, though, both sides kept playing good football but chances were few and far between.
The only opening in the remainder of the first half saw Ward produce a point blank stop to deny Robinson after the midfielder had met yet another Dale cross.
Spartans were again quick out of the blocks from the start of the second half and took the lead just four minutes in.
A break from a Steels attack saw Maguire intelligently hold up the ball and release Dale down the left hand side of the area. The winger got his head up and picked out Robinson who rolled home his second Spartans goal from eight yards, giving his side a lead they deserved.
The advantage was almost doubled on 66 minutes as a huge Misiewicz clearance caught the wind and released Maguire in on goal. Forced wide by the advancing Ward the Spartans front man attempted an impudent chip that just went past the far post.
Maguire, though, is a man in form and he was not be denied a goal.
Minutes later Matty Wade ran on to a through ball and forced Ward into a smart stop, but the loose ball ran to Maguire who rolled home into an empty net for his seventh in six games.
Incredibly it is also the former Seaton Delaval man’s seventh goal in his last four Croft Park games.
Buoyed by the realisation of a two-goal lead, Spartans began to play some impressive football and only a last ditch tackle denied Joe Kendrick a goal after the Irishman had been played in on goal by Hooks, the man who was to go on to seal an impressive win a minute from the end of normal time.
The Spartans midfield trio of Wade, Hubbard and Hooks all played a part in a team goal that summed up all that is good about the new-look Spartans this season.
Wade and Hubbard linked up well to find Maguire on the edge of the box, he held the ball up and released Hooks in on goal. Showing the prowess you would expect to see in a striker, Hooks took one touch to steady himself before firing into the far corner with Ward grasping at thin air.
The win means that Spartans maintain their unexpected play-off push and continue their impressive home form.
Having played 15 Croft Park fixtures this season, Spartans have won ten of them, losing only two in the process.
Ironically, next up is a trip to one of the two teams who have came away from Northumberland with three points.
Matlock Town provide Wade’s side with a stern test this Saturday, but it is one that should they show the commitment, desire and hard work they can go into with confidence.
Spartans’ man of the match was Danny Parker.
Blyth Spartans: Misiweicz, Buddle (Cummings 45), Parker, Purewal, Kendrick, Hooks, Hubbard (Horner 82), Wade, Dale, Maguire (Watson 85), Robinson. Subs not used: Grant, Wearmouth.