Blyth denied as Marine hit late equaliser

Phil Airey celebrates with Craig Farrell after Farrell put the Spartans ahead. Picture by Bill Broadley.
Phil Airey celebrates with Craig Farrell after Farrell put the Spartans ahead. Picture by Bill Broadley.

A LATE goal from substitute Karl Noon denied Blyth Spartans a win in a rollercoaster of a match against a Marine side who lost their 100 per cent record with the 3-3 draw at Croft Park on Saturday.

Spartans knew they were in for a hard game against a side who had won all four league fixtures so far this season and had only conceded one goal in the process.

However Tommy Cassidy’s side can take heart from an impressive showing against a side who are certain to be battling for a play-off place at least come the business end of the season.

Just as they had last week against Hednesford Town and at Whitby Town on Monday, Spartans were quick off the mark and took the lead early on when the visitors were caught out when Joe Kendrick rolled a quick free kick to Robbie Dale who drove at Marine defender Dowling.

Dale went past Dowling but his progress was stopped by an illegal tackle and a spot kick was awarded. Kendrick took the kick and calmly finished down low to the keeper’s right, just as he had down at Whitby.

A scrappy spell to the game followed and it was not until 24 minutes in when the next chance came and the away side equalised.

A dubious spot kick was awarded against Kendrick for a challenge on Moore, despite contact looking minimal.

Moore stepped up and took the kick himself, and despite Conor Grant getting a hand to it he could not prevent Marine drawing level.

Spartans had the better of the closing stages of the first period and had chances to go in at half-time with the lead.

Just after the half hour some good link up play between Phil Airey and Dale saw the latter cut inside from a narrow angle but he curled his effort well wide of the goal.

On the brink of half-time Spartans had a great chance when Craig Farrell stepped up to take a free kick from 20y yards out.

The former Carlisle United striker’s technique was perfect and his low curling strike was only just deflected wide of the far post.

A quiet opening spell to the second half saw the first chance come just before the hour mark and it fell to Marine.

A loose ball in the Spartans area fell to Kendrick but his clearance was blocked and it rolled to Marine winger Fowler. He cut inside Wayne Buchanan and crashed home from 12 yards out.

At times in the past Spartans would have let their heads drop, but this side hit back within five minutes when a Shaun Vipond break saw him brought down 25 yards from goal.

Kendrick stepped up and curled a wonderful free kick into the top corner of Williams’ net.

With 12 minutes remaining, Cassidy’s side had the lead and it was a goal that relied much on the strength of Farrell as he collected a long pass from Scott Blandford and held off two defenders then crashed a shot into the far corner that left Williams clutching at thin air.

What would have been an excellent win for Spartans never came to pass and it would be the cruelest of late blows that would deny them.

A quick break from the visitors saw Fowler hit a shot goalwards that was blocked on the line by Shaun Utterson, but before either Utterson or Grant could react, Marine substitute Noon pounced and kept his composure to ensure Marine left Croft Park with a point.

Blyth Spartans: Grant, Utterson, Kendrick, Vipond, Buchanan, Jones, Mason, Hodgson, Dale, Farrell, Airey Subs: Turnbull, Blandford, Hunter, Berj, Davis Goalscorers: Kendrick 7 pen and 62, Farrell 78.

Spartans man of the match: Joe Kendrick.

Attendance: 367.

Spartans now head to Stocksbridge Park Steels on Tuesday night hoping to repeat their win over the Yorkshire outfit earlier in the season and then entertain Garforth Town in the first qualifying round of the FA Cup next Saturday at Croft Park.