Gillesphey earns win for the Braves
Blyth AFC 1-0 Darlington RA
Liam Gillesphey scored the winning goal five minutes from time to help Blyth AFC edge past a stubborn Darlington RA 1-0 at Woodhorn Lane.
Bobby Taylor struck the post midway through the first-half, but despite the Braves dominating possession, the sides went into half-time goalless.
A big penalty appeal, for a foul on Jake Armitage, was waved away, but Gillesphey struck home, off the post, late on to earn Blyth a valuable three points.
Jon McDonald and Ian Skinner made three changes to the side that won on Wednesday evening, with Gillesphey, David Henderson and Gary Day coming into the starting line-up.
The first opening was on 14 minutes when David Robinson struck a free-kick, from just right of centre, at the ‘keeper.
However, the hosts were struck with two injuries inside the opening 21 minutes of the game, with Day and James Harmison making way for Cameron Fenton and Paul Antony.
The closest the Braves come to breaking the deadlock was five minutes later. The ball was played neatly through the Darlington back line, and Taylor latched onto the pass before lashing off the post.
Several chances were created by the home side, but RA’s game plan was clear and it was working as they continued to frustrate the hosts.
Into additional time at the end of the first-half, Robinson rolled a free-kick into the path of Gillesphey, whose shot flew inches over the crossbar.
The Braves’ next opening didn’t come until after the hour mark, with Robinson firing off target before Taylor was denied by Paul Griffith.
Taylor, Jake Armitage and Gillesphey all had efforts, but couldn’t manage to break the deadlock, however, the hosts knew they had to be patient.
On 70 minutes, Armitage appeared to have been held in the penalty area, but despite appeals for a penalty, the referee waved them away.
McDonald and Skinner had one last throw of the dice, and brought on Michael Chilton two minutes later, and Blyth’s top-scorer almost made an immediate impact.
A corner was swung into the near post, and the striker flicked the ball on, but just over the crossbar.
Time was ticking, and the hosts had their head in their hands after Antony’s header, from around two-yards out, was remarkably saved by RA’s ‘keeper.
However, it took a moment of magic from Gillesphey, five minutes from time, to break down a resilient Darlington outfit.
The midfielder picked up the ball around 25-yards out and rifled home off the post to spark jubilant celebrations between players and management.