IT is getting increasingly difficult to predict which Blyth Spartans FC is going to turn up these days.
After the 6-2 mauling of Vauxhall Motors the previous weekend, Mick Tait’s side put in a woeful display at the Greene King Stadium on Saturday and got exactly what they deserved against a resurgent Hinckley United.
The Knitters gained revenge for a 4-0 defeat at Croft Park in February as this time it was the Blyth defence who unravelled in a disastrous second half.
Spartans looked to be heading in to the interval a goal to-the-good thanks to an Alan White back flick on 36 minutes, but the game was turned on its head by two strikes from the home side just before the half-time whistle.
Buoyed by the quick turnaround, Hinckley emerged from the dressing room a rejuvenated side and scored a further three goals to inflict Blyth’s heaviest defeat of the season in the league so far.
Hinckley began the game brightly with the dangerous James Reid twice coming close for the hosts, with his first attempt flashing wide of the upright and his second producing a decent save from Blyth goalkeeper Jake Cunningham.
A doubt before the start of play with an ankle injury, Neal Hooks lasted 32 minutes before being replaced by John Alexander.
Prior to his departure Hooks had been Blyth’s best player and a surging run from midfield, culminating in a shot from 25 yards, had called Hinckley goalkeeper Ian Deakin in to action for the first time.
The away side’s best move of the game produced their only goal when Robbie Dale brilliantly weaved past two defenders and crossed low for Alan White to audaciously flick home from 14 yards.
Blyth almost doubled their advantage shortly after when Paul Brayson fired just wide after a defence splitting pass from Michael Tait.
Spartans continued to press for a second and it was this adventurous nature that led to their downfall on two occasions before the break.
On 45 minutes Dan Groves lost the ball on the edge of Hinckley’s area and a swift counter attack from the hosts produced an equaliser with the ball eventually falling to Lloyd Kerry, who finished well from 25 yards.
Blyth almost hit-back immediately but Chris Swailes saw his goal bound header cleared by James Mace, and Hinckley once again raced forward to score a second in as many minutes with Jermaine Clarke firing past Cunningham from 16 yards.
Eleven shell-shocked players in green and white trudged off the field at half-time in disbelief, but if they thought it was going to get any better after the interval then they were sadly mistaken.
In Blyth’s first attack from the restart White almost continued his rich vein of form in front of goal by scoring a second of the afternoon from a Stephen Turnbull corner, but the defender’s header bounced off the dry surface and agonisingly over the crossbar.
The hosts then squandered two golden chances to add to their tally when firstly Sam Belcher headed off the post before Andre Gray totally miscued a free header from eight yards.
Belcher did, however, manage to get his name on the score-sheet on 54 minutes when he finished past Cunningham from ten yards after Reid had been afforded far too much time to pick out his man in the area.
By this point the visitors were in total freefall and it came as no surprise to see Hinckley score a fourth on the hour mark when Reid found the far corner of Cunningham’s net with a looping header.
On 74 minutes the aptly named Gray completed a miserable day for Spartans when his shot from the edge of the area found a way under Cunningham and nestled in the back of the net.
Blyth couldn’t even find a consolation at the death to go a little way in healing gaping wounds left by this inept display.
Brayson connected well with his shot but Deakin saved brilliantly before the goalkeeper gathered a White header on the goal line from the resultant corner.
Blyth Spartans: Cunningham, Groves, Buchanan, Tait, Swailes, White, Hooks (Alexander), Turnbull, Brayson, Deverdics, Dale (O’Mahoney).