Far from an epic as Spartans and Gladiators ends in stalemate

The unbeaten run goes on for Blyth Spartans but their stalemate against Matlock Town was two points dropped.

If this was Spartans against Gladiators then it was far from an epic battle and whilst the result is now in the history books, it will not be a clash that anyone will rush to remember.

The game was tedious and the home side were left frustrated by a combination of disrupted play and being unable to impose their usual style on the game.

Spartans started brightly, buzzing with enthusiasm on a pleasantly mild Northumberland evening.

The first chance came quickly as in the second minute Dan Maguire found some space on the left of the Gladiators area but his timid shot was comfortably saved by the veteran keeper Jon Kennedy.

However, that initial enthusiasm subsided and the game fell into a monotonous routine of misplaced passes and sloppy play from both sides.

Spartans trying to get their passing game going, with their visitors looking to make the most of their physical strength with striker Danny Holland proving to be a handful for the home back four.

There was a let off for Blyth as the half hour mark approached.

A long ball into their area by Otis Khan saw Danny Parker misjudge its flight and it bounced over the centre back to give Holland a sight of goal, but the striker fired over from ten yards.

The home side finally created a second chance after a long spell of outright boredom.

Robbie Dale found space on the edge of the Matlock area and played an intelligent ball to Michael Richardson where and the former Newcastle United man cut inside two challenges before firing at the near post. A slight deflection off Adam Yates made things uncomfortable for Kennedy but the former Gateshead stopper saved well low down to his right.

As referee Craig Dean brought down the curtain on the first half, he did so to a chorus of boos from the Croft Park faithful as they vociferously showed their disapproval at the performance of the official.

It was a relief to get to the interval such was the scrappy nature of a half that will not live long in the memory of those in attendance.

The first half’s morose nature was replicated in the early stages of the second, but it was the visitors who created the first chance ten minutes in.

The Gladiators’ direct approach again caused problems as full back Micky Harcourt got in behind the Spartans back four. Holland found some space and his angled volley forced Nick Thomson to tip the ball away to safety at his near post.

The pressure was all one way and to the frustration of the Green Army it was not their side applying it.

Again the visitors came and it was a cross from the right by Khan that caught Spartans’ back four sleeping, but their weary nature was matched by Gladiators striker Holland and the chance passed him by at the far post.

Spartans thought they had taken the lead with 12 minutes remaining as Dale sent in a free kick from the right that caused havoc in the visitors back four.

The ball eventually found its way to substitute Ash Davis and the striker prodded the ball goalwards. Richardson made sure the ball sneaked inside the far post and set off wild celebrations inside Croft Park, however, they were cut short by the assistant’s flag..

Spartans ramped up the pressure with the clock ticking into injury time.

A wonderful cross from the left hand side by Jarrett Rivers found the head of Dale and the long-serving winger flicked the ball towards the far post but was denied by a sublime save by Kennedy as he flung himself across goal to tip the ball away.

That proved to be the last action of a frustrating night for Spartans, with referee Dean incurring the wrath of the Green Army for a questionable performance.

Spartans: Thomson, Nicholson, Mullen, Parker, Bramley, Hooks, Richardson, Dale, Maguire, Wade (Davis 65), Rivers. Subs not used: Wearmouth, Watson, Turnbull.

Attendance: 467.