Ex-Blyth Spartans man Armstrong snatches late winner for Whitby

It was former Blyth Spartan Graeme Armstrong who landed a late knock out blow to his old club on Boxing Day to give his new employers Whitby Town all three points.

Spartans skipper Robbie Dale had crashed his side into the lead in the first half before Shane Henry equalised for the home side, but Armstrong’s clinical finish two minutes from time ensured Darren Williams’ side nicked the win.

Arran Wearmouth made his return to the starting line-up after injury and suspension, as did Joe Kendrick, who took the place of Ian Watson who had a slight knock.

Damen Mullen was also handed a start after Ryan Cummings was ruled out with the injury that saw him replaced at half-time in Saturday’s win over Stamford.

With the hosts containing four former Spartans in their squad it seemed inevitable that one of them at least would have an impact.

Two minutes in Lee Mason made a claim to be that person but his ten-yard drive was tipped wide by Michal Misiewicz.

With both sides struggling to get going it was not until on 22 minutes that the next action took place. However, that would contain the opening goal and it fell to Spartans.

A delightful through ball from Dale released Dan Maguire into the left hand channel. He held the ball up well before rolling to Dale on the edge of the box, and without breaking stride the winger smashed an unstoppable effort into the top right hand corner of the net leaving Shane Bland grasping at thin air.

That lead was to only last eight minutes as Shane Henry got the home side back on level terms.

A Mason corner was headed out to the edge of the box and was met by the right foot of Henry. The midfielder did not make great contact but it was enough to bobble just inside the far post with Spartans complaining about a Town player on the line in an offside position.

Former Spartan Richard Pell almost handed his old side the lead minutes before half-time as he deflected a Dale cross onto his own crossbar. The ball bounced down and seemed to land just over the goal line but referee Michael Gillespie waved play on with Spartans players and supporters insisting a goal should have been awarded.

Dan Maguire could and should have given his side a half-time lead but fired wide after being played in on goal.

The second half saw the North Sea wind blow in and the temperature dipped with both sides struggling to get out of first gear.

Snaith and Dale exchanged chances with neither midfielder making the most of good positions, with the Whitby man firing across goal after cutting inside on his right foot.

Dale crashed into the side netting from a narrow angle after easily beating Hassan on the left hand side of the area.

A rather turgid second half did little to warm up supporters of either side and it was not until ten minutes from time that anything meaningful happened.

A Mason corner from the left caused a scramble in the Spartans area and Craig Farrell flicked goalwards. However, his ten-yard effort was headed off the line by Damen Mullen.

There was to be a sting in the tail for Tom Wade’s side as Armstrong found some space on the right hand side of the area and he produced a clinical finish that was all too rarely seen in his time at Croft Park as his left foot effort dribbled just inside Misiewicz’s far post.

It was cruel on Spartans who deserved at least a draw, but they must now pick themselves up for Saturday’s final fixture of the year at home to Barwell.

Spartans’ man of the match was Danny Parker.

Blyth Spartans: Misiewicz, Mullen, Kendrick, Buddle, Parker, Wade (Hubbard 38), Robinson, Horner, Maguire, Wearmouth, Dale. Subs not used: Watson, Grant, Purewal, Hooks.

Attendance: 370.