Hubbard hits second hat-trick in week as Spartans thump Skelmersdale

It was the joy of six for Blyth Spartans as they destroyed Evo-Stik Northern Premier League leaders Skelmersdale United 6-0 to reach the second qualifying round of the FA Trophy.

Man of the moment Craig Hubbard led the way with his second hat-trick in a week against the Lancashire side, and with goals for Joe Kendrick, Dan Maguire and a first for Ash Davis since his return to the club, it was a perfect day for everyone at Croft Park.

After Tuesday’s excellent home win over Ilkeston, it was rather unsurprising that Tom Wade chose to stick with the same line-up who had battled to victory over the Robins.

There was a return to the bench for Neal Hooks, who had been missing from the squad for the win over Kevin Wilson’s side.

Spartans started on the front foot with dynamic duo Arron Wearmouth and Dan Maguire at the forefront.

Just after the ten-minute mark Wearmouth played an intricate ball through the defence to release Davis but he was denied by a block from Skem keeper McMahon.

A minute later Maguire fizzed a cross in from the left which McMahon spilled and he had defender Rob McIntosh to thank for saving his blushes as he prevented Arjun Purewal from tapping home from six yards.

With both teams looking somewhat tentative as the half carried on, the game turned into a war of attrition.

Astbury had the visitors’ first chance of the half on 28 minutes but could not escape the attentions of the impressive Nathan Buddle as the former Marine striker looked to be in on goal.

There were signs of indiscipline from the visitors and they paid for them five minutes before the interval.

Winger Matty Hughes had been booked for an earlier foul on Wearmouth and after diving in the Spartans area he was shown a second yellow card to leave his side up against it.

They did, however, manage to hold on until the break.

What was to follow was one of the most remarkable halves of football ever witnessed at Croft Park.

Testing efforts from the likes of Damen Mullen, Lewis Horner and Hubbard gave little indication of what was to follow, but 13 minutes into the second period the game exploded into action.

Having replaced the injured Wearmouth during the latter stages of the first half, Robbie Dale came to the fore and after turning his marker inside out on the left he picked out Hubbard with an inch perfect cross and he crashed a wonderful right foot volley into the top right hand corner of McMahon’s net.

Three minutes later Hubbard’s purple patch continued as he doubled his own tally and Spartans’ lead with an accurate left foot finish from the edge of the box.

The former West Auckland man rounded off a nine-minute hat-trick and a perfect one at that on 67 minutes with his seventh goal in seven days.

Six of those have come against Skem and he headed home from close range after Maguire had done superbly to head Dale’s left wing free kick back across goal.

Croft Park was bouncing and the young Spartans side fed off that energy as they looked to hammer home their authority.

They had to be thankful to keeper Michal Misiewicz who produced a world class save as he tipped Strickland’s curling effort from the edge of the box on to the far post when it seemed destined for the top corner.

With ten minutes left Wade’s side went into overdrive and after the perpetual motion of Maguire had embarrassed Strickland, the Spartans forward drove into the right hand side of the visitors area where he picked out the unmarked Davis who coolly rolled the ball home from eight yards out for the first goal of his second spell with the club.

United were reduced to nine men with five minutes left as their indiscipline came to the fore yet again.

Centre back Rob McIntosh was shown a straight red for something he said to referee Barry Gordon.

Spartans took full advantage with the goal of the game two minutes from time.

A cute ball into Davis from Dale saw the front man chest the ball to release the overlapping Kendrick in on goal and he fired across McMahon with a deadly accurate finish and into the far corner via the post.

A perfect day was rounded off in injury time and it was Maguire who celebrated signing a contact at the club with a clinical finish that sums up his growing confidence.

Again it was Dale who led the visitors a merry dance and he fired a ball into Maguire on the penalty spot. Taking one touch to steady himself the former Seaton Delaval man crashed into the roof of the net.

It has been a tough three years for Blyth Spartans but the promising signs that have been shown this season will give the club’s supporters cause for optimism.

Saturday was a day when Tom Wade’s young side showed that they really can be a force to reckon with and they looked dangerous every time they went forward.

Spartans’ man of the match: Craig Hubbard.

Blyth Spartans: Misiweicz, Airey, Purewal (Kendrick 74), Buddle, Watson (Parker 77), Mullen, Horner, Hubbard, Wearmouth (Dale 39), Davis, Maguire Subs not used: Hooks, Wade.

Attendance: 340.