Blyth Spartans fight back from three down to beat Ilkeston
Robbie Dale was once again the hero as Blyth Spartans produced an astonishing comeback from 3-0 down to snatch a vital three points against Ilkeston at the New Manor Ground.
The Robins raced into a three-goal lead inside 37 minute, but Sean Reid’s header gave Blyth hope heading into half-time and Dale’s deflected effort put them to within one.
It looked as though time had run out before Reid pounced with a minute remaining to make it 3-3.
But that was not the final drama as Dale’s fine solo effort in the last minute of seven added on sealed a fourth straight league success.
Blyth were slow out of the blocks and it could have been even worse had Luke Shaw’s eighth-minute penalty not been superbly saved by Adam McHugh, down to his left, after Alex Nicholson’s foul inside the area.
But Shaw was to get his revenge two minutes later as he set free Haydn Goddard, whose teasing cross was turned into his own net by Nicholson under pressure from an Ilkeston attacker.
Spartans started to show some adventure going forward through Arran Wearmouth. The winger crossed for Dale but he could not head either side of keeper Jahquil Hill, before Wearmouth himself had a goal chalked off for offside.
Just as they seemed to be building some momentum, two goals in six minutes left the visitors with a mountain to climb.
Jordan Watson’s throw-in somehow fell kindly for Goddard to tuck home from the edge of the area, before a sharp Ilkeston counter-attack – aided by an unfortunate slip by Nathan Buddle – set Luis Rose free and the winger finished with aplomb from 18 yards.
Undeterred by the three-goal deficit Blyth continued to come forward. Wilson Kneeshaw’s drive was tipped over by Hill, Dale had an effort cleared off the line before Reid’s header from Damen Mullen’s in-swinging free kick clawed the deficit back to two.
The second half was a slow-burner until Dale’s first strike on 57 minutes, spectacularly bringing down a high ball and firing past keeper Hill on the turn via an Ilkeston deflection.
Ilkeston were still an active threat going forward as McHugh twice repelled strikes from Michael Williams before a glut of substitutes halted momentum on either side.
It sprung into life again with seven minutes remaining as two Reid headers went close – one going just wide, another cleared off the line – while Goddard’s corner almost crept in unaided at the near post.
Then with just a minute left, indecision in the hosts back line left keeper Hill stranded, substitute Paul Robinson headed back towards the danger zone and Reid was there first to steer home what looked to be the equaliser.
Both sides had chances within the first six minutes of stoppage time. Home winger Dexter Atkinson’s deft one-two left him one-on-one with McHugh but the Blyth custodian came out on top, and Reid’s hat-trick attempt on the volley was well-saved by Hill.
But just as it looked to be heading for a draw, Dale slalomed through the home defence and slammed a left-footed shot into the far corner, sending the travelling Green Army into raptures behind the goal.
Blyth Spartans: A McHugh, A Nicholson (A Cartwright, 81), J Watson, D Morse, N Buddle, D Mullen, A Wearmouth (P Robinson, 79), S Reid, W Kneeshaw (M Richardson, 60), 10 M Wade, R Dale. Subs not used: D Parker, F Otte.