Blyth Spartans suffered their first defeat of the new Evo-Stik Premier Division season on Tuesday evening as Daniel Mitchley scored late on to secure the points for Marine with a 1-0 win.
The away side had enjoyed the better of the first half, with Robert Dale, Daniel Maguire and Sean Reid all going close to opening the scoring.
But their failure breakthrough came back to haunt them when Mitchley poked the ball home in the 82nd minute to claim the three points for the Mariners.
Marine were quick out the traps and could have opened the scoring within the first 60 seconds. Goalkeeper Calvin Hare’s boot upfield nearly played in Mitchley, but Peter Jeffries was quick to snuff out the danger by smothering the ball at the feet of the attacker.
Spartans went close to breaking the deadlock just two minutes later. Stephen Turnbull found Nathan Buddle at the back post from a corner, but the defender could only glance his header wide under pressure.
Blyth’s next chance also came from a Turnbull corner. The set-piece was cleared only as far as captain Dale on the edge of the area, but he could only watch as his thunderbolt strike took a deflection behind.
Dale went close again soon after when having turned Lewis Field inside and out to create an opening on the left, the talismanic winger tried to curl a shot around Hare and inside the far post, but a header on the line diverted the ball behind.
Marine striker Mitchley then looked to have been played in one-on-one, but a late offside flag took the sting out of the attack.
After scoring an audacious long-range lob against Heaton Stannington last season, Michael Richardson can certainly be afforded the chance to try and repeat it. However, despite finding Hare off his line, the midfielder was unable to keep his attempt on target this time.
Marine should have taken the lead on the half-hour mark after Craig Lindfield played in Joe Mwasile on the left. The winger went round two Spartans defenders and tried to blast the ball past the on-rushing Jeffries, but Blyth’s goalkeeper got just enough of a touch on the ball to deflect the fierce shot onto the crossbar.
That gilt-edge chance was followed by another down the other end six minutes later.
Richardson, who had received a yellow card moments earlier, picked out a free Maguire in the box. The Blyth number nine had the goal at his mercy and headed the ball down to try and put it past Ryan O’Hare, but the keeper was able to just keep it out with a foot.
Blyth upped their intensity to try and score as the half-time whistle drew near, and their efforts nearly paid dividends a minute before the break.
A quality through ball from Matty Pattison released Maguire down the left. He fizzed it across goal looking to pick out Reid, who could only get a slight touch on the ball when anything more would have surely saw him score his second goal of the season.
Just as they had in the first half, Marine made a quick start following the restart and looked threatening when they won a corner five minutes in. Jeffries was able to stay strong to grasp the ball out of the air, but – worryingly for Blyth – was caught by a Marine player in the air. The Spartans stopper received treatment from the physio but was able to stay on.
It took over 20 minutes for the second half to spring into life, but Marine nearly made up for lost time in fortunate circumstances.
O’Hare struck from outside the box but the ball was deflected and appeared to be trickling wide. Mitchley gave chase on the left and managed to get a shot away from a tight angle, but could only find the side netting.
Marine’s O’Hare then fouled Turnbull, who had been looking to break. Be it for that foul or kicking the ball away in frustration, the Marine midfielder ended up in referee Richard Holmes’ book either way.
O’Hare was in the heart of the action three minutes later as his corner found a leaping Billy Smart on the penalty spot, but his header went well over the Blyth goal.
Another Marine chance came 15 minutes before the end when Mwasile won a free-kick on the left. Lindfield stepped up to take it, but his cross-shot was met by Jeffries at the near post.
Spartans had waited for a long while for a chance at this point and, when it came, it left them with their head in their hands once more. Turnbull’s corner was drilled across the face of the goal and was begging for a touch from a teammate, but Marine were just able to clear it away.
There was more frustration to follow for Tom Wade’s men as Marine’s second-half dominance finally paid off with less than ten minutes to go.
A fantastic ball from the right allowed Mitchley to get in behind Andrew Cartwright and, with Jeffries advancing to block the shot, the Marine striker stabbed the ball between the keeper’s legs and into the net.
Mitchley nearly doubled his tally four minutes later, with his last action before being taken off for Chad Whyte. Reacting quickest to a cross, Marine’s goalscorer guided a header just wide of the post, to the despair of the home fans who thought it had gone in.
To lose after being on top for nearly all of the first half will be desperately disappointing for Spartans, but they will have to dust themselves down and pick themselves up quickly as they make the long trip to Halesowen Town on Saturday.
Blyth Spartans: Jeffries, Cartwright, Liddle, Buddle, Hutchinson, Turnbull, Richardson (Rivers 82), Pattison (Wade 75), Maguire, Reid, Dale (Armstrong 86). Subs not used: Parker, Caines.