Spartans shine as Skelmersdale are dumped out of FA Cup

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Blyth Spartans rekindled their love affair with the FA Cup with a devastating performance that left Evo-Stik Northern Premier League high flyers Skelmersdale United heartbroken.

Goals from Jarrett Rivers, Matthew Wade, Robbie Dale and Dan Maguire ensured it was Tom Wade’s side who went into Monday’s draw the third qualifying round.

Injuries, suspension and unavailability forced the Spartans manager’s hand with a debut for right back Joel Dixon and a move to centre back for Ryan Hutchinson.

That allowed Jordan Watson to shift to left back to cover for the unavailable Ian Watson. There was also a third Spartans ‘debut’ for returning midfielder Stephen Turnbull.

A quiet start saw Spartans settle quicker but the home side had the first chance as Danny Mitchley forced Peter Jeffries into a smart stop at his near post with just six minutes on the clock.

Spartans finally created a chance on 20 minutes as Turnbull’s pass to the edge of the area found the feet of Maguire. He took advantage of a slip by Robbert Bodie but could only fire over the bar from just inside the area.

However the goal that Spartans’ quick start to the game deserved duly arrived on 25 minutes.

Nathan Buddle seized on a loose ball and found Dale, who cleverly flicked on to find Rivers, and the winger found space inside the area and fired hard and low just inside the near post, although Skem keeper Fearon may feel he could have done more.

However, rather than building on their lead, Spartans were pegged back eight minutes before the break.

Several crosses into the area were not cleared sufficiently and Kenny Strickland smashed a wonderful 25-yard effort into the top right hand corner.

Spartans still could, and maybe should, have gone into the interval a goal to the good.

Dale touched the ball to Maguire just inside the Skem half and his first time through ball released Rivers in on goal. After beating the offside trap the former Whitley Bay man set himself before rolling past Fearon but agonisingly his shot narrowly went past the left hand upright.

Spartans were forced into a change at the break as Dan Hawkins replaced the injured Neal Hooks in the midfield.

Within ten minutes of the restart Spartans gave notice of the remarkable half of football that was to follow as they took advantage of the high defensive line the home side were playing. And it would not be the last time, either.

Dale played a perfectly weighted through ball to release Maguire and he went around keeper Fearon but saw his shot bravely blocked by Bodie before firing the rebound wildly wide.

Showing rather more composure, Wade ensured Spartans took the lead two minutes later.

He was again played in behind the back four and after taking his time to size up the chance he curled the ball past the helpless Fearon and into the net.

It became a two-goal lead on the hour and it was a moment of magic from Dale that effectively killed the game.

A quick free kick from Turnbull allowed the Spartans skipper to break towards the edge of the area. He played the ball around Wisdom before smashing low and hard into the far corner. It was a goal that produced a vociferous reaction from the Green Army and that noise would not stop.

The chances continued to come and Rivers squandered a golden opportunity as he fired over after being played in on goal again by Dale.

With 15 minutes left on the clock Spartans were awarded a penalty as Dale was dragged down in the area by Wylie. Damen Mullen stepped up to take the spot kick but his low effort was saved well by Fearon down to his right hand side.

Spartans sent on loanee Jonathyn Quinn for his debut and within minutes he almost made a dream start but saw a half volley slide just past the far post.

With two minutes left the hard-working Maguire got the goal his graft deserved.

A clearance from Buddle was misjudged by Bodie and that allowed Maguire in on goal and he made no mistake, smashing the ball past Fearon.

As the whistle went skipper Dale and manager Tom Wade led the Spartans players over to the Green Army to show their appreciation for the impressive performance off the park, and the thanks was certainly reciprocated by the Spartans supporters.

Blyth Spartans: Jeffries, Dixon, J Watson, Buddle, Hutchinson, Hook (Hawkins 45), Turnbull, Maguire, Wade (Mullen 74), Dale, Rivers (Quinn 82) Subs not used: Cummings, Wearmouth, Perez, Bell.

Attendance: 250.