Three second half goals secure Spartans three points

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THE temperature may have been a little colder than Matlock Town in mid-September, but the result was the same as Spartans beat Kendal Town to gain their first Evo-Stik Northern Premier League away victory since that 3-1 win in Derbyshire.

They achieved that feat thanks to a brace from Lee Mason and a first Spartans goal of his second spell in the green and white for Stephen Turnbull.

Tom Wade was in charge for the night and he handed starts to Conor Grant, Phil Airey and Jordan Mellish after the trio missed the 5-0 home defeat to AFC Fylde on Saturday.

Joe Kendrick was on the bench but Wade was unable to call on Craig Pickering and Craig Hubbard who were unavailable, as was Jack Stanger due to the young midfielder being on England Colleges duty.

Far from feeling sorry for themselves after the Croft Park hammering at the hands of Fylde, Spartans began the game well and should have taken the lead within the first minute as Airey was released in on goal but fired wide of the near post.

The opening spell was all about Spartans and Mason had a golden opportunity five minutes in but was unable to get a shot away having collected a clearance from his own corner kick.

However, they were punished for being unable to capitalise on their good start in the most severe way as Town striker Maisom McGeechan broke through on goal and fired across Grant and into the far corner.

That goal came after Spartans had failed to heed an earlier warning after the same player missed an easier chance.

Spartans should have been level within a minute as Robbie Dale provided Dan Maguire with a chance but the striker saw his effort deflected wide for a corner.

From the resulting corner Turnbull floated a ball far post to find an unmarked Mellish who could only direct the header over the bar.

Mellish was replaced ten minutes before the interval after picking up a dead leg with Kendrick taking his place at the heart of the back four alongside Wayne Buchanan.

The game was to turn scrappy but it was Spartans who were creating the better chances, and Mason nearly got them back on level terms on the stroke of half-time.

A pinpoint Dale cross found the winger unmarked in the box but he guided a header wide of the far post from ten yards out, and that meant his side went into the interval a goal down.

Spartans were on level terms within five minutes of the restart and it was one of their goals of the season from Turnbull.

Some neat interplay between Dale and Shaun Utterson saw the latter play a ball to Maguire in the area, he controlled the cross and set up Turnbull who crashed a 25-yard shot straight into the top right hand corner of Craig Dootson’s net with the keeper rooted to the spot.

Turnbull was replaced ten minutes after his goal with a back injury forcing Wade to bring on Tom Berj.

Spartans were well on top by now, although the home side always looked dangerous on the break, and it would take until 65 minutes for the visitors to take the lead they deserved.

Utterson broke down the right and fed the ball into Mason on the edge of the box. The winger spun his marker and curled a left footed effort around the keeper and into the net via the inside of the far post.

If the first half had been all about Spartans’ lack of quality in front of goal, then they were certainly going about righting those wrongs in a grand manner in the second period.

As was to be expected the home side came back into the game in the last 20 minutes, but they were denied by three top class saves by Spartans’ man of the match Grant.

First the former Gretna keeper managed to tip a superb 20-yard volley from Town winger Zach Clark onto the bar, but he would produce an even better save ten minutes from time.

A far post cross from Jack Cook found an umarked Aaron Taylor no more than three yards from goal but Grant made himself big and blocked a certain equaliser.

By the time Grant had made his third outstanding save of the night, his side had extended their lead, and it was Mason who carried on his recent run of goalscoring form.

Dale, who had come alive in the second half, beat two men and drove into the Town box. He fired across goal but saw his shot cannon off the far post and rebound to Mason and the former Hartlepool United man forced the ball into the net to kill off any hopes the home side had of snatching a point.

With the last action of the game Grant sealed his man of the match award with yet another fantastic save from a 20-yard Wilson free kick, palming a goal bound effort to safety.

That all meant Spartans gained their first win on the road since that sunny September day at Matlock Town..

Blyth Spartans: Grant, Utterson, Mullen, Buchanan, Mellish (Kendrick 34), Mason, Turnbull (Berj 55), Hooks, Dale, Maguire, Airey (Hodgson 85). Subs not used: Donnelly, Jennings.

Attendance: 148.