On Valentine’s Day it was a case of love and hate for Blyth Spartans as they produced two very different displays at Buxton.
First came the hate as they produced an abject and lifeless display in the first half and were overpowered by a rampaging Bucks outfit who took a two-goal lead into half-time.
But whatever was said in the Spartans dressing room during the interval changed the game as Steven Turnbull’s second goal for the club, along with a brace from Dan Maguire, saw a mass love-in amongst the travelling Green Army, ensuring that they took three points that nobody saw coming at half time.
The hosts should have taken the lead in the eighth minute as winger Alastair Taylor burst down the right, leaving Ryan Hutchinson and Jordan Watson behind before crossing to the near post where Liam Hardy could only send his eight-yard effort over the bar.
A moment later Spartans came within the width of a post of going in front. A swinging cross from the right by Joel Dixon was met with a strong header by Steven Turnbull, but the midfielder was denied by the near post and the ball was scrambled away for a corner by Bucks captain Laurie Wilson.
Jarrett Rivers took the flag kick and it caused havoc in the area with a loose ball dropping to Hutchison ten yards out, but the defender should have at least made Bucks keeper Josh Ollerenshaw work but fired well over the bar.
That miss was punished in the 12th minute as the home side took the lead.
Taylor found some space on the right and was given time to pick out a cross to the far post. Joel Dixon misjudged the flight of the ball and that allowed Bucks debutant Ash Burbeary to stroke the ball home from eight yards.
That lead was almost doubled on 18 minutes as Bucks’ strike pairing Hardy and Shaun Tuton combined as the latter headed over from around six yards with the goal at his mercy.
However, there was to be no mistake on 27 minutes as Buxton did double their lead with a goal that was as simple as it was clinically finished.
Neil Stevens was given time in midfield to pick out an incisive through ball that saw Hardy break through, beating the offside trap comfortably before rolling the ball calmly past the advancing Peter Jeffries.
There was a bright spark for Spartans ten minutes before the interval as Maguire beat the offside trap down the right. He calmly held the ball up before rolling it back to Robbie Dale but his first-time shot from the edge of the box was deflected narrowly past the far post.
Things could have got even worse for Spartans five minutes before half-time as Tuton was somehow left completely unmarked eight yards from goal, but as he rose to meet a Hardy cross he could only head over Jeffries’ crossbar and left the Spartans back four holding an inquest into who was supposed to be marking the Bucks striker.
Despite the home side starting the second half on top it was Spartans who grabbed the first goal after the restart.
Some impressive play down the left from Maguire allowed the front man to roll back to the edge of the box for Steven Turnbull and the midfielder took a touch before volleying left footed into the bottom right hand corner.
Remarkably Spartans were level just after the hour mark with a goal from Maguire.
Dale’s corner from the left found its way to the striker at the far post and he turned before smashing into the net, although it took a deflection off the bar before creeping over the line.
Just minutes later the turnaround was complete and again it was Maguire. A weak backpass from Jamie Green was intercepted by the striker and he rounded Ollerenshaw before rolling home into an empty net.
That goal set off boisterous celebrations from an impressive band of the travelling Green Army, who could hardly believe the turnaround in the scoreline and their team’s performance.
With the clock running down towards 90 minutes, Spartans almost settled their nerves with what would have been a killer fourth goal.
Some clever interplay between Maguire and Rivers allowed the latter to find Dale at the far post and the winger twisted and turned before forcing Ollerenshaw into a spectacular save as the Bucks keeper tipped his rising effort of the bar.
As the game went into injury time substitute Mark Reed almost grabbed an equaliser for the hosts. A cross from the right found the striker but he headed over from six yards as he rose above Dixon, who probably did just enough to put Reed off.
That miss was the final chance for the hosts as Spartans took three points from a venue where they have been beaten in the last two seasons.
Blyth Spartans: Jeffries, Dixon, Watson (Mullen 62), Hutchinson, Parker, Wade (Hooks 76), Hawkins, Rivers, Maguire, Stv Turnbull, Dale. Subs not used: Nicholson, Richardson, Lynch.