Dale and Maguire doubles help Spartans maintain play-off push

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Blyth Spartans are up to sixth in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League after a 4-2 win over Witton Albion on Saturday.

There were no changes in the line-up following the impressive win over title favourites Chorley last time out, although Paul Robinson did return to the bench after the completion of his three-match ban.

Spartans started on the front foot and took the lead in the sixth minute with a magical goal from the in-form Robbie Dale.

The winger collected a pass and skipped past his marker Anthony Gardner before cutting in from the touchline and smashing the ball from a narrow angle into the top right hand corner of the net.

But it was a lead that Spartans only held on to for all of 90 seconds.

The blustery conditions caused issues for the home back four and when a gust of wind took the ball over Joe Kendrick’s head it allowed Danny Andrews to get into the area, where he curled the ball exquisitely into the far corner with the instep of his left foot.

The visitors belied their precarious league position by dominating the rest of the first half, albeit assisted by having the wind at their backs.

The impressive Alex Titchener went close with a volley and Conor Grant denied Josh Hancock.

However, there was nothing Grant could do to prevent Albion going ahead eight minutes before the interval as Hancock’s free kick from the left was flicked goalwards by Michael Powell and crept just inside the far post to give the visitors a deserved lead.

With the words of management duo Tom Wade and Colin Myers ringing in their ears and the wind at their backs, Spartans began the second half on top.

But for all of their pressure it took until the hour mark for them to get on level terms with a penalty from Dale.

Man of the match Neal Hooks broke away from midfield and played an intricate through ball to the ever dangerous Dan Maguire who was upended by Albion keeper Cooper. Dale, just as he had in the reverse fixture, sent the keeper the wrong way and got his side back level.

Albion had a golden chance to retake the lead soon after as centre back Rob Bodie headed a Hancock corner wide despite being unmarked eight yards out.

He was punished for that miss as Spartans took the lead with ten minutes left, although there is some dispute over who scored.

Substitute Robinson gave Spartans fresh impetus when he replaced Ian Watson and his stinging drive was tipped over by Cooper.

Maguire took the resulting corner from the left and his in-swinging cross sneaked inside the far post although midfielder Lewis Horner had a more than valid claim that he had headed the ball home.

Spartans sealed the win a minute from the end of time, although not before Powell headed wide from point blank range after beating Grant to a Hancock cross.

A breakaway from an Albion corner saw Dale played in on goal and he tried an audacious chip but that was blocked by Cooper, although the ball rebounded to him and he headed goalwards only to see the effort cleared off the line and it fell to Robinson who also saw an effort cleared before Maguire pounced to tap home.

The win saw Spartans rack up some impressive statistics.

They are now unbeaten at home in the league in ten games, winning nine, and they have scored three or more goals in the four home fixtures and remain unbeaten in 2014.

Maguire is also the first Spartans player since Paul Brayson in 2010-11 to score 20 goals in a season.

Spartans head to Stafford Rangers next Saturday looking to maintain their play-off push.

Blyth Spartans: Grant, Utterson, Parker, Buddle, Kendrick, Hooks, Horner, Wade (Hubbard 70), Dale, Maguire, Watson (Robinson 75). Subs not used: Purewal, Wearmouth, Cummings.

Attendance: 337.