Spartans undone by FC United Manchester

A goal from FC United of Manchester midfielder Joe Fox just after the half hour mark ensured that the Rebels continued their winning streak against Blyth Spartans with a narrow victory.

But it could and possibly should have been a more convincing win.

Tom Wade’s side will point to three golden opportunities that were missed, but in reality the visitors looked a wiser than their hosts and that saw them take the points.

Spartans were unable to call upon the unavailable Dan Hawkins, which led to a recall for Paul Robinson, and there was a home debut for defender Jordan Watson after the former Sunderland Under-21 player made his debut in Saturday’s win at Halesowen Town.

The game took its time to get going with neither side looking dangerous in the early stages.

The busiest man on the pitch was the FC United physio who was called upon to give treatment to Mike Norton and Chris Lynch.

In fact the first chance did not arrive until midway through the half as the lacklustre game burst into life with a chance that should have led to Spartans taking the lead.

An incisive through ball from Robinson released Arran Wearmouth and although his first touch took him around Rebels keeper Carnell, it also took him wide of the goal and the chance was wasted.

An even better chance was to be squandered by Spartans just before the half hour mark as this time it was Dale who provided the killer pass. The recipient this time was Dan Maguire but after taking a touch to steady himself the striker could only slide the ball past the far post.

That miss was duly punished just two minutes later with the Rebels’ first real chance of the game as they showed Spartans exactly how it was done.

A vicious Liam Brownhill cross to the back post found Jerome Wright but his effort came back off the angle of bar and post and the loose ball ran to Joe Fox who crashed home from 12 yards.

Wright came within a whisker of a spectacular second for the visitors as a challenge between Norton and Nathan Buddle saw the ball ricochet to the former Maine Road man. He tried an audacious 30-yard snapshot that went narrowly over Peter Jeffries’ crossbar with the Spartans number one scrambling back towards his goal.

Two more chances came the Rebels way before the interval, but a brave stop from Jeffries denied Norton and the FC United striker was left to rue the alert defending of Alex Nicholson.

The former Newcastle United Under-21 full back got back to clear Norton’s back post header of the line as he met a cross from Brownhill.

Within a minute of the restart Maguire had almost bettered his opening day stunner against Grantham Town with a vicious volley from the angle of the area, but Carnell acrobatically parried the ball to safety.

Spartans almost gifted their visitors a second ten minutes into the second half as a slack pass from Robinson was seized upon by the hard-working Norton. The striker smashed a low drive that was palmed away by Jeffries but only as far as Wright who smashed the rebound against the upright.

Spartans came back at the Rebels just after the hour as Dale released Robinson into the area and he danced around Stott but his low drive was saved by the legs of Carnell.

From that point on the visitors took over and as Spartans became more desperate to get an equaliser, inevitably chances came at the other end.

With the clock ticking towards full-time, Wright should have sealed the win as he was played in on goal but rolled it wide of the far post.

That chance coming shortly after he had seen Buddle divert a low drive from the edge of the box away from goal.

Spartans, to their credit, kept going until the end but seemed to run out of ideas.

If anything, a second for United seemed more likely than an equaliser, but neither was to come and that left Spartans to head into Saturday’s Non-League Day with Buxton looking to bounce back.

Blyth Spartans: Jeffries, Nicholson, I Watson, J Watson, Buddle, Hooks, Wearmouth (Bell 85), Hutchinson, Maguire, Robinson (Rivers 74), Dale, Subs not used: Sayer, Cummings, Mullen.

Attendance 623.