BLYTH Spartans rounded off their Croft park campaign for the 2012/13 season in disappointing fashion as an all but relegated Kendal Town side took all three points with a 3-1 win.
But the Mintcakes victory was as much down to the lack of prolific finishing from Spartans as it was to their own qualities.
The visitors had the opening chance of a scrappy start to the game as a cross from winger Callum Hoctor found Danny Mitchley who hooked wide from ten yards.
Spartans first chance came on ten minutes as a Daniel Maguire header forced Ryan Robinson to tip over the bar.
Neither side were playing fluent football and Town should have taken the lead and would have but for the awareness of Conor Grant. A cross from the right from Aaron Halliwell caught the Spartans defence square and Simon Rawnsley was denied by a reflex save by the Spartans number one.
Spartans best chance so far came on twenty five minutes as a Stephen Turnbull cross to the far post found Maguire.
The young striker acrobatically flicked the ball into the six yard box to find Tom Berj but the midfielder could only find Robinson’s grateful hands.
Two minutes later the visitors took the lead. A long ball forward caused confusion in the Spartans defence and allowed Mitchley and Rawnsley to break through on goal unchallenged. Grant came out to close down Mitchley but that allowed Rawnsley to tap into an empty net.
That goal seemed to galvanise Spartans and they nearly fashioned a spectacular equaliser from an unlikely source.
A Turnbull corner found it’s way to Jordan Mellish and the former Hartlepool United centre back volleyed low at goal only to see Robinson hold on to his effort at the second attempt.
Minutes later and it was another former Pools man who nearly forced an equaliser as a dynamic run from Lee Mason saw him waltz past two players and Robinson only to see his goalbound effort cleared off the line by Adam Freeland.
That was only temporary respite for the Mintcakes and ten minutes before half time the scores were level.
Joe Kendrick broke forward from the left back position and fed the ball into Neal Hooks on the edge of the area.
The midfielder took one touch before delightfully curling the ball inside Robinson’s far post with the visitors keeper rooted to the spot.
That was Hooks’ first goal of the season and it’s been well deserved with the former Ross County midfielder’s form improving steadily throughout the season. That goal meant the scores were even at the break.
The opening of the second half was all about Spartans as Tom Wade’s side looked to build on Hooks’ late first half effort.
A long ball from Kendrick released striker Andy Jennings who forced a remarkable save from Robinson as the Town keeper parried away Jennings forceful volley.
The tall forward came within a whisker of a goal minutes later as Mason played him into the box but the former Billingham Synthonia frontman could only fire a shot just past the far post.
It was third time unlucky for Jennings on sixty six minutes as he crashed over from twelve yards after getting on the end of a Slaughter cross.
Those missed chances always threatened to come back and haunt Spartans and that duly happened on seventy one minutes although it occurred in somewhat controversial circumstances.
A cross into the Spartans area flicked up off Mitchley and from close range on to the hand of Mellish. Much to the surprise of the majority inside Croft Park the referee awarded a spot kick that was dispatched well by Mitchley himself. A Spartans pushed forwards trying to force an equaliser they were always in danger of conceding a killer third and that came ten minutes from time as a Buchanan back pass was scuffed by Conor Grant.
That allowed Mitchley to fire into an empty net from twenty yards for his second of the game and in the process sealed the points for the Mintcakes.
Spartans ended their home fixtures with a disappointing loss and will look to round off the season in a more positive manner as they travel to Nantwich Town on Saturday.