Buddle heads winner as ten men Blyth Spartans see off Matlock Town
Blyth overcame mid table Matlock Town with a hard fought performance on Saturday at Croft Park.
It was never a pretty game but Spartans showed great resolve in grabbing the three points as they played most of the game with only ten men.
The visitors had the best of the early stages with the home side struggling to find their rhythm.
Matlock full back Craig Nelthorpe fired wide of Adam McHugh’s goal before a series of crosses in to the Blyth box put the keeper under pressure, but the visitors failed to capitalise on their possession.
On 13 minutes Daniel Maguire tried to find Michael Richardson six yards out, but the midfielder narrowly failed to collect and the half chance went begging.
A neat move involving Matlock’s Liam Needham and Jordan Ball needed a last-ditch intervention by Alex Nicholson to deny them a goal scoring opportunity.
After 30 minutes the hosts began to find their feet with Aaran Wearmouth a thorn in the side of the Matlock defence.
Michael Harcourt had to foul the Blyth winger as he advanced dangerously towards goal, and the resulting free kick by Robbie Dale found the head of Nathan Buddle but keeper George Willis was able to gather the central defender’s effort with ease.
Maguire looked to be in on goal but was closed down by defenders Laurie Wilson and Adam Yates, while Sean Reid, Richardson and Nicholson all had attempts which came to nothing as the interval approached.
Blyth looked to up their game after the break, and a Dale dribble down the left was only halted by a timely tackle by Harcourt before a Richardson snap-shot was blocked by Thomas Burgin.
On 50 minutes Blyth were reduced to ten men when forward Maguire was sent off for what the referee adjudged to have been a high elbow.
But the home side’s spirit was not diminished by the set-back as they re-organised and resolutely continued to seek the opening goal.
A neat flick by Wearmouth gave Nicholson the chance to charge forward, but Needham was on hand to expertly slide-tackle the full back just before he could deliver a cross.
Jordan Watson and Wearmouth both shot wide of goal before the breakthrough came.
A Damen Mullen through ball fell to Buddle who looped a delightful header over a stricken Willis, who appeared to have slipped as the attempt was executed.
Matlock upped their ambitions and Cribley sent a free kick wide of McHugh’s post before the Blyth keeper needed to react quickly to collect before Ball could pounce.
The game became something of a midfield battle but Blyth still created openings as Buddle headed narrowly wide and another attempt by the central defender was dealt with well by Wilson.
The visitors caused issues for the Blyth defence in the final few minutes with Charlie Dawes firing just past the post, and it needed an excellent tackle by Blyth substitute Andrew Cartwright to halt Dawes as he advanced down the left.
A Yates header flew wide before McHugh saved a rasping Joel Purkiss shot with a terrific one-handed save.
Blyth’s Dillon Morse bravely threw himself in front of successive shots as his side desperately hung on to the lead.
But that they did, following a courageous performance which secured the three points that Blyth needed to keep up their promotion hopes.
Blyth are at home on Easter Monday when they entertain Workington, kick-off 3pm.
Blyth Spartans: A McHugh, A Nicholson, J Watson, N Buddle, D Morse, S Reid, A Wearmouth (A Cartwright 78), D Mullen, D Maguire, M Richardson, R Dale. Subs not used: W Kneeshaw, D Parker, N Hooks, P Robinson.