Blyth Spartans lose opening friendly to Robins

Blyth Spartans got their pre-season campaign under way on Saturday by losing to the odd goal in seven against Northern League division two outfit North Shields.

Spartans’ management team of Tom Wade and Colin Myers took the opportunity to look at two trialists in what was a rather slow paced fixture, which was hardly surprising given the sweltering temperatures at the Daren Persson Stadium.

A sloppy start to the game saw the Robins take the lead on the tenth minute with Gareth Bainbridge firing home from just inside the box.

The former Ashington front man connected well with the ball and left Conor Grant with no chance.

However, it would not take long for Spartans to get back on level terms as a Darryll Donnelly cross from the right was headed into his own net by Shields defender John Parker.

Just after the 20-minute mark Wade’s side nearly took the lead and would have but for a wonderful piece of goalkeeping from the hosts’ keeper, who is actually on trial at Spartans.

A quick corner from the left saw a Robbie Dale cross headed at goal by Jordan Mellish, who saw his effort acrobatically tipped over by the stopper.

The keeper prevented Dan Maguire from carrying on last season’s good form just after the half hour mark with a solid stop at the near post after the striker had turned his marker just inside the box.

The Robins regained the lead on the brink of half-time as Wrightson played a clever ball into the box for left back Grey. After taking one touch to steady himself the defender fired across Grant and into the far corner of the net.

With the increasing temperatures taking hold of the players and testing their fitness levels, the second period started in a somewhat pedestrian fashion and it took until the hour mark for any serious action.

That would come in the form of a home goal as a cross from the left found its way to Bainbridge, who headed his second of the game from around eight yards out.

Spartans should have pulled one back five minutes later as former Shields striker Rob Nolan flicked to Craig Hubbard inside the box but the midfielder could only send a low shot past the far post.

They would pull one back on 66 minutes and it was a debut goal from young midfielder Ryan Cummings.

A neat flick from Hubbard saw the ball fall to Cummings on the edge of the box and his wonderfully struck low volley sailed into the bottom corner.

Shields’ two-goal lead should have been restored just five minutes later but winger Walker just failed to connect with a ball to the far post.

He would, however, make no mistake ten minutes from time with a low finish from eight yards after an earlier shot had hit the post.

The final action of the game came just a minute from time as Nolan collected a ball on the edge of the box and saw his low shot parried by the keeper. The loose ball fell to Maguire who made no mistake from eight yards out.

Blyth Spartans: Grant, Donnelly, Airey, Mellish, Kendrick, Hooks, Mullen, Mason, Dale, Wade, Trialist Subs: Nolan, Maguire, Cummings, Holmes, Hubbard, Trialist.

Attendance: 221.

Spartans next pre-season fixture is their first at Croft Park with Whitley Bay making the short trip along the coast on Saturday for a 3pm kick-off.