Spartans show what is required for a return

Blyth's Shaun Utterson skips past the challenge from Hyde's Chris Worsley. Picture by Bill Broadley.

Blyth's Shaun Utterson skips past the challenge from Hyde's Chris Worsley. Picture by Bill Broadley.

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A SWIFT return to the Blue Square Bet North via promotion next season is certainly not out of the question for Blyth Spartans if they can consistently perform to the level they showed on Saturday against league leaders Hyde.

Tommy Cassidy’s relegated side were unfortunate to be on the receiving end of a one-nil defeat at Croft Park as they were on top for long periods against the Manchester outfit.

The goal which separated the two sides on the final whistle arrived after just six minutes when a free kick from Hyde’s Adam Griffin was headed past Spartans goalkeeper Robert Birdsall by Andrew Pearson.

Carl Jones then had two golden opportunities to get on the score sheet at the other end within the space of five minutes.

Firstly, a Robert Dale cross found the central defender eight yards from goal but he could only slice wide with just Hyde keeper David Carnell to beat.

Then Dale whipped in a dangerous corner which was flicked on by Wayne Buchanan at the front post to Jones, who glanced his header over from close range.

Spartans continued to dominate proceedings and created another chance when Neal Hooks crossed for Glen Taylor, whose header drifted wide of Carnell’s far post.

Hyde’s only response before half-time was a Scott Spencer effort from 20 yards which sailed well wide of the target.

Three minutes after the break Blyth’s Shaun Utterson completely miscued a volley when unmarked on the edge of the area which ended up going out for a throw in.

At this stage of the game and on Grand National Day the outsiders looked likely to upset the odds against their much fancied opponents.

And Spartans almost found a goal through Dale when he rose highest to meet a Joe Kendrick corner only to see his header clip the top of the crossbar and go over.

Blyth almost gifted the visitors a goal on 54 minutes when Birdsall spilled a cross from Ryan Crowther and Spencer pounced only to see his shot cannon off Buchanan and behind for a corner.

Hyde almost put the result beyond any doubt six minutes from time when a cross by Griffin found Gianluca Havern at the back post and he struck the upright from close range with a volley.

Spartans were valiant in defeat but how many times have we heard that this season?

Six wins from 40 games tells its own story and after completing their league programme with games against Hinckley United (away) and Nuneaton Town (home) rebuilding for next season must begin in earnest.

Blyth Spartans: Birdsall, Groves, Kendrick, Hodgson, Jones, Buchanan, Utterson (Mason), Hooks, Taylor, Dale, Phillips. Man of the match: Dale.

Attendance: 321.