In-form Maguire seals Spartans victory

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A superb second half goal from the in-form striker Dan Maguire saw Blyth Spartans overcome the stubborn resistance of Evo-Stik Northern Premier League strugglers Grantham Town.

The nineteen-year-old front man has quietly been going about his business at Croft Park and is rapidly making a name for himself.

And not only did he grab the winning goal but he added another man of the match award for a hardworking display, although Spartans were grateful to keeper Conor Grant for several stunning stops in Saturday’s 1-0 win.

The game started in a somewhat subdued fashion with the wind causing havoc for both sides.

Neither Spartans nor the visitors could get the ball down and take control, and it took 15 minutes for either side to fashion a chance, which fell to the Gingerbreads.

Strikers Demidh and Jordan Smith linked up well on the edge of the box and the latter struck a low effort that was comfortably saved by the outstanding Grant.

Just before the 20-minute mark Spartans had a great chance to take the lead and it was no shock that Maguire was at the heart of it.

A quick throw-in by Andy Jennings released the lively striker into the box, he dinked the ball over Deon Meikle before trying to repeat the trick with keeper Turner but he could not get enough purchase on the effort.

Five minutes later came the best chance of the game so far as Town defender Meikle struck a volley from ten yards that beat Grant but could not find a way past Jordon Mellish on the line.

Spartans went straight down the other end and had a golden chance to take the lead as Craig Hubbard released Lee Mason one-on-one but the winger could only drag his left foot effort wide of the far post.

As the game headed towards the interval, Grant was forced into a full stretch stop to deny a 20-yard free kick by Demidh, and two minutes before the break was relieved to see Nathan Watson send a similar effort just past the near post.

A tedious and uninspiring first half saw neither side on top and surely only better could come from the second period.

A lightning fast start to the second half saw Spartans quickly on top.

Craig Hubbard struck a range finder from 25 yards that was comfortably stopped by Jake Turner, who then denied Robbie Dale from 12 yards after the winger had been rolled in by Maguire.

A busy period for Turner continued as he produced a superb double stop to deny Jennings from the edge of the box, and the close range follow up by Maguire, who then looped the loose ball over the bar.

Just before the hour mark Grant produced the save of the match as a long ball into the Spartans area fell to Town striker Demidh. He unleashed a wicked half volley from 12 yards that Grant acrobatically parried away from goal.

That save seemed to inspire his team-mates who turned things up a notch and got themselves into the lead with a superb goal.

Mason curled a through ball to Maguire and released the forward into the inside left channel. As he was closed down by Adie Hawes he looped the ball over the defender’s head before steadying himself to volley just inside the near post from around 12 yards.

The visitors thought they had levelled on 72 minutes as Grant failed to hold on to a swerving long distance effort by Watson.

He was beaten to the loose ball by Smith who rolled the ball home but was denied by an offside flag, much to the dismay of the Gingerbreads’ bench.

Maguire almost doubled the lead with a vicious effort from 20 yards but Turner was equal to the effort.

As the clock ticked down Spartans looked more and more comfortable and nearly got a second as the visitors keeper produced a wonderful stop to deny Hubbard whose well hit volley seemed certain to go in.

The final action of the game saw Gingerbreads winger Kallum Smith dismissed for what seemed like dissent, airing his views to the referee in a rather over the top fashion.

So it was Spartans who took the points and in the process three wins in four games at Croft Park, and kept a first clean sheet since the 1-0 home win over Eastwood Town in mid-November.

It was a win that saw Spartans show their discipline and confidence that has been on display since Tom Wade took over in the hotseat, and there should be some cautious optimism as they look to end a disjointed season on a high.

Spartans’ man of the match: Dan Maguire.

Attendance: 314.

Blyth Spartans: Grant, Airey, Kendrick, Mellish, Buchanan, Mason (Turnbull 81), Hubbard (Mullen 87), Hooks, Jennings (Slaughter 70), Maguire, Dale Subs not used: Cook, Donnelly.