Spartans well beaten in Doodson Cup by Darlington 1883

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In the first ever meeting between the two clubs, Darlington 1883 sent Blyth Spartans crashing out of the Doodson Sports Cup at the first hurdle on Wednesday evening.

The Quakers had five different scorers on a night as Tom Wade’s side never got going and were deservedly punished by a keener and hungrier looking home team.

Midfielder Paul Robinson was handed a Spartans debut against his own club and Wade chose to rest young duo Lewis Horner and Matthew Wade.

The experienced Neal Hooks and Craig Hubbard were brought in as their replacements while Damen Mullen and Ian Watson were rested and replaced by Nathan Buddle and Marc Lancaster.

The home side started the brighter and almost went ahead on four minutes.

A corner from the left saw Conor Grant clear to the edge of the box where Jonny Davis took control before firing over.

Two minutes later Grant was in the action again to deny David Dowson after the striker had been played with an intricate pass from Stephen Thompson.

However, early promise gave way to what can only be described as a turgid first half.

The wind rather than either set of players was on top and a desperately poor opening 45 minutes was witnessed.

Spartans’ only pressure of the period came on the half hour mark as Robbie Dale took two free kicks from the right that caused danger in the home defence. The second of which saw a goalbound deflection cleared from inside the six-yard box by Leon Scott.

On the brink of half-time Purewal came within an inch of opening the scoring, sadly for Spartans it was Darlington’s Amar Purewal not their own Arjun.

The striker burst through the back four and tapped the ball past Grant but it dribbled past the near post.

That deadlock was broken within five minutes of the restart and it was the Quakers who predictably grabbed the first goal, although with it came a rather large slice of fortune.

Amar Purewal found Dowson on the edge of the area and the former Sunderland striker struck an effort of Arjun Purewal’s knee and the deflection sent the ball looping over the stranded Grant and into the net.

That goal may well have had an element of fortune about it but there was nothing fortunate about the way Spartans capitulated over the next 15 minutes.

On the hour mark Amar Purewal ghosted past Joe Kendrick before crashing a wonderful right foot effort into the top left hand corner, a sensational strike much out of sync with the disrupted play that had been on display.

Two became three on 67 minutes as a lack of communication cost Spartans a goal in comical fashion, although nobody in yellow was laughing.

A mix-up between Lancaster and Arjun Purewal seemed to have been sorted out, but as Grant came out to collect the loose ball Kendrick attempted to head it back to the keeper who had vacated his goal. Each of them could only watch as the ball bounced into the empty net, an own goal without a Quakers striker within ten yards. If a goal summed up Spartans performance then this was it.

With just over 15 minutes left on the clock there was an all too rare positive for Spartans as they pulled a goal back.

Some persistence from Dale on the left hand side saw the winger steal the ball back from Bruno Pilatos and he calmly rolled it to Craig Hubbard, and after taking one touch to steady himself the midfielder tapped the ball past Peter Jameson.

A comeback was never on in reality as the home side got back on top quickly, scoring two more goals in the last ten minutes with embarrassing ease.

Firstly former Gateshead striker Nathan Fisher was left with a tap in after being found by a Davis cross at the far post, and then with five minutes left substitute Lewis Turner set the seal on a miserable night for Spartans. The youngster was one of several Quakers players who could have scored as they queued up to pass the ball around the Spartans back four before it was tapped past Grant, who was left seriously exposed.

If the Spartans players had matched the performance and enthusiasm in the stands by an impressive band of the travelling Green Army then they would be looking forward to the last 16 draw of the Doodson Sports Cup.

In reality they got what they deserved as the Quakers gained a notable win that was achieved by their endeavour and hard work.

Wade and assistant Colin Myers got answers to questions they had asked. Although the answers may not have been what they wanted they will look to continue their play-off push as Spartans travel to Buxton on Saturday.

Spartans’ man of the match: Robbie Dale.

Attendance: 316.

Blyth Spartans: Grant, Buddle, Purewal, Kendrick, Lancaster, Hooks (Horner 76), Wearmouth (Maguire 64), Robinson (Wade 71), Hubbard 87, Dale, Andrews Subs not used: Parker, Airey.