Blyth Spartans blown away by Morpeth Town

If there was any complacency setting in at Croft Park after a largely positive pre-season, it was well and truly blown away by Northern League side Morpeth Town on Tuesday evening.

The visitors were physically stronger and made their strength count to ensure they won the game with a comfortable 4-1 scoreline.

Blyth Spartans named a much changed line-up from Saturday’s win over Clitheroe and the level of alterations on the playing staff over the summer was highlighted by the fact that from last season’s squad only Lee Mason and Dan Maguire were in the starting 11.

There was an early warning of what was to come for the home side as Morpeth came within a whisker of taking the lead on four minutes.

Striker Anderson was sent through on goal only to be blocked by Spartans trialist goalkeeper.

It took some time for Tom Wade’s side to click into gear, and it was a Rob Nolan 20-yard free kick that forced Town keeper Rooks into his first action of the game, smothering the former North Shields striker’s low effort.

The visitors were showing greater urgency and had a great chance to take the lead just before the half hour mark.

A quick free kick from Anderson found fellow front man Taylor but he could only lash an effort past the angle of bar and post from the edge of the box.

There was no reprieve for Spartans on 35 minutes, though, as a wonderful cross from full back Henderson saw Fry head the visitors into the lead.

That lead was doubled just before the break when Spartans’ back four were caught sleeping as a long ball released Taylor and he comfortably finished when one-on-one with the keeper.

The first notable chance of the second period fell to Blyth as Maguire lashed a swerving effort from the edge of the box that was tipped over by Rooks.

However, the away side were back on top minutes later with another goal for Taylor.

Joe Kendrick seemed to be the victim of a heavy challenge that saw the ball roll through to Taylor and he crashed a low effort into the far corner to extend his side’s lead.

Two minutes later Spartans got a goal back, and it was Maguire who was the man to get it, although it owed much to a superb through ball by Damen Mullen.

Playing in a midfield role, Mullen found himself on the right hand side and played an intricate ball inside full back Patterson to release Maguire. The striker took one touch and finished low inside the near post for his third goal of pre-season.

However, a crazy spell of the game was rounded off just two minutes later as the visitors restored their three-goal lead and sealed the contest with the goal of the night.

Substitute Hutchinson smashed a superb effort home from all of 20 yards to leave Spartans with a near impossible task to get back into the game.

They did try and should have got at least one back just after the hour as Maguire curled just wide of the far post after Cummings had laid the ball off inside the box.

Spartans were left agrieved with 15 minutes left after the referee failed to spot a trip on winger Mason as the former Hartlepool United man burst into the penalty area after good work from Robbie Dale.

The final chance of the game fell to Spartans with ten minutes left as Maguire again was fed in the box but he dragged his shot wide of the far post and ensured that the visitors took a deserved win back to Craik Park with them.

Blyth Spartans: Trialist, Buddle, Purewal, Parker, Trialist, Mason, Holmes, Wade, Cummings, Nolan, Maguire. Subs: Donnelly, Dale, Mullen, Grant, Howarth, Garrity, Tobin, Kendrick, Trialist.

Morpeth Town Rooks, Henderson, Patterson, Grant, Tumilty, Hiftle, Keenan, Fry, Anderson, Taylor, Fenwick. Subs: Chilton, Wells, Hutchinson, Swanson, Jules, Hall, Wilson, Darwent, Dunn.

Attendance: 212.