Blyth Spartans suffer first home league defeat of season

Blyth Spartans manager Tom Wade.
Blyth Spartans manager Tom Wade.

Blyth missed the opportunity to extend their lead at the top of the Evo-Stik table as Sutton Coldfield Town won 2-1 at Croft Park on Saturday.

The visitors’ captain, Joel Kettle, headed his side in front before Daniel Maguire’s second-half goal looked to have earned a point.

However, substitute Zak Lilly struck late on to inflict Blyth’s first home league defeat of the season.

Tom Wade’s side could count themselves unlucky to lose an evenly-matched contest, but they were largely restricted to long-range efforts by a well-organised visiting side.

After a period of pressure, Sutton took the lead just six minutes before half-time as Kettle rose highest from Mo Diop’s corner to firmly plant his header past Fabian Otte.

The hosts were out early for the second-half and could have easily got level within two minutes of the restart as Maguire drilled the ball across the face of goal. Had a touch been applied, a goal would have resulted.

Diop, Kyle Bryant and Luke Rodgers all missed chances to extend the visitors’ lead and were made to pay.

A superb through-ball found Maguire, who beat the onrushing Wren to fire home, despite Kettle’s best efforts to keep it out.

Lilly replaced Diop for Sutton as Paul Robinson, Neal Hooks and Michael Richardson replaced Sean Reid, Turnbull and Matthew Wade respectively as both sides looked for the winner.

Richardson and Maguire came close to putting Blyth ahead, but it was Sutton who got the decisive goal as Lilly pounced in the final third and shot decisively past Otte from the edge of the penalty area.

Richardson came agonizingly close to equalising with the last kick of the game, but it was destined not to be Blyth’s day.

The lack of a cutting edge was the issue for Blyth Spartans in their 2-1 defeat at the hands of Sutton Coldfield, according to manager Tom Wade.

“At the end of the day, it’s no good having loads of the ball if we don’t ultimately do anything with it,” he said after the match.

“We dominated the game but didn’t create clear-cut chances.

“Sutton are good side, probably the league’s team of the month for September, so it was always going to be close.

“They did a job on us and were set up very defensively, and we had trouble breaking them down. But we’re still top of the league and certainly not panicking, although the very top sides combine patience with a cutting edge.

“We need only step up another 10 per cent and work on a plan B to make it happen.

“As management, it’s us who need to address this.

“We need to take responsibility too for how the lads are asked to play and ensuring they are given the right directions.”

Blyth remain three points clear at the top of the table despite Saturday’s defeat by their West Midlands visitors.