Spartans punished by clinical Pilgrims

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BLYTH Spartans FC were punished for switching off in the closing stages of both halves as promotion-chasing Boston United secured a place in the Blue Square North play-offs by smashing five past the visitors at the Jakemans Stadium on Saturday.

The game was over as a contest when the Pilgrims scored three goals within the space of five minutes before the break and rounded of disappointing day in Lincolnshire for Spartans with two more in the dying minutes.

Blyth were unable to capitalise on their dominance in the opening stages of each period by squandering numerous chances, but in contrast the hosts were ruthless and incisive in front of goal.

From the start it was the visitors who looked like the side in contention for a play-off position, and after four minutes they created the first opportunity when Wayne Buchanan’s header was cleared from the Boston goalmouth by Lawrie Dudfield.

Spartans threatened again, this time from a dead-ball situation, when Stephen Turnbull’s curling free kick was tipped behind by Paul Bastock.

Blyth’s Dan Lowson was called in to action for the first time when he saved a low shot from Spencer Weir-Daley before a chance at the other end fell to Michael Tait, who dragged his effort wide of the upright.

Paul Brayson really should have fired Blyth in to the lead halfway through the opening period, but after neat footwork had allowed him time and space in the area his effort was hit straight at Bastock.

Just before the half-hour mark Rob Dale was replaced by John Alexander, having been unable to shake off a head injury sustained earlier in the game.

The forced substitution disrupted Blyth’s shape as they no longer had an outlet on the right.

Blyth were left to rue missed chances on 32 minutes when Boston scored against the run-of-play, albeit thanks to a spectacular effort from Ryan Semple, who sent his half-volley in to Lowson’s top corner from 25 yards.

The visitors almost responded immediately but Tait’s deflected shot flew just wide of the mark and the referee’s decision to point for a goal kick infuriated those in green-and white.

Frustration turned to despair on 35 minutes when Anthony Church doubled his side’s advantage when he cut inside Buchanan to finish low past Lowson from 16 yards.

Boston then scored a third when Dan Groves uncharacteristically misplaced his pass and Dudfield, with still plenty to do, fired an unstoppable effort past Lowson.

Unbelievably, there was still time before the break for Blyth to waste two golden opportunites.

Firstly, Brayson found himself unmarked in the area but failed to guide his header on target from six yards, when it seemed easier to score.

And then Alexander looked to have done the hard part by surging past Jelleyman, only to fire an effort over the crossbar from close range.

The visitors continued in the same vein after the break, with Alexander again bearing down on goal only to see his effort saved by the legs of Bastock.

Tait was then denied by Boston on three separate occasions. Firstly his header was cleared by Kevin Austin on the goal-line and in his next attempt minutes later, Bastock smothered a low shot from the Blyth midfielder.

Bastock came out on top again in his duel with Tait when he saved spectacularly following a long range effort.

But just like the first half, Blyth were punished for not converting their chances as Shane Clarke controlled a shot from Church in the area and slid the ball past Lowson, with four minutes remaining.

Substitute Adam Boyes compounded Blyth’s misery in time-added-on when he capitalised on a mix up between Buchanan and Lowson to roll in to an empty net for his team’s fifth of the afternoon.

Mick Tait will be looking for a better result in Blyth’s final league game of the season when they travel to Worcester on Saturday.

Blyth Spartans: Lowson, Groves, Cave, Tait, Buchanan, White, Hooks, Turnbull, Brayson, Deverdics, Dale (Alexander).

Attendance: 1,316.