A DISAPPOINTING result on the pitch for Blyth Spartans FC on Saturday was followed by more bad news off it when it was confirmed that Shaun Vipond had suffered a broken leg during the 3-1 defeat against Droylsden.
Vipond was stretchered off on 72 minutes and taken to hospital, where an X-ray established the midfielder had sustained a broken tibia.
Spartans manager Steve Cuggy went to see his player after the game and, like everybody else at the club, is wishing him a speedy recovery.
The incident overshadowed what was a decent game of football at Croft Park as Blyth once again won more admirers than points with their performance.
Prior to the injury to Vipond, Droylsden had taken a second half lead through Steve Hall before a Phil Cave penalty restored parity for the hosts.
With the wind in their sails Blyth pressed for the win but came undone – not once but twice – in the final three minutes as Danny Rowe scored a brace to secure victory for the Bloods.
The visitors enjoyed plenty of possession in the opening 25 minutes but it was the home side creating the better chances as Droylsden goalkeeper Paul Phillips denied both man of the match Wayne Phillips and Cave.
Blyth came close again when a deep cross by Cave found Dan Groves at the back post, but he could not direct his header on target whilst under pressure from Carlos Logan.
Playing in an advanced role, Phillips was causing the Droylsden defence problems and almost broke the deadlock five minutes before the interval when he unleashed a fierce shot from 20 yards which was beaten away by the Bloods keeper.
In the last action of the half Groves tested Paul Phillips with a low shot after making a trademark surge down the right hand side.
The message from Cuggy and his assistant Gavin Fell at half-time was for more of the same, but unfortunately for them Droylsden had other plans and put Blyth on the back foot straight from the restart.
After conceding six corners in quick succession it appeared only a matter of time before Spartans succumbed to pressure from the away side.
And Droylsden got their breakthrough on 56 minutes when an uncharacteristic mistake from Neal Hooks allowed Steve Hall to latch onto a pass from Lewis Killeen and finish past David Knight from a tight angle.
The setback sparked a spirited response from the hosts as Hooks raced forward to pull the ball back for Graeme Armstrong who miscued a shot from 14 yards.
A Hooks corner then found the head of David Coulson, who fell to the ground in attempting to find a way past Phillips.
Phillips held onto the ball but as Coulson attempted to stand up he was pushed back down by Droylsden defender Nat Kerr which prompted referee Paul Davison to award a penalty before booking Kerr.
Cave calmly sent Phillips the wrong way from the spot on 68 minutes.
With 18 minutes remaining Vipond did not get up from what looked like an innocuous challenge and was stretchered from the field of play after a lengthy stoppage.
Richie Slaughter replaced him, but it was another substitute who had an opportunity to fire Blyth into the lead as Lee Mason raced clear but failed to find a way past Phillips.
Coulson was then left holding his head in his hands after missing the target with a header after another probing delivery from Hooks.
At the other end Rowe was allowed time to turn in the area before firing wide of Knight’s far post on 82 minutes.
The Spartans defence did no’t heed the earlier warning as five minutes later Rowe found himself in a similar position but this time finished emphatically past Knight.
Rowe then compounded Blyth’s misery three minutes later with a brilliant solo run and finish to seal the points for his side.
The defeat leaves Spartans just one place above the Blue Square North’s drop zone after eight games played.
They will now look to bounce back when they welcome Boston United to Croft Park on Saturday.
Blyth Spartans: Knight, Groves, Cave, Jones, Coulson (Emms), Buchanan, Forster (Mason), Hooks, Armstrong, Vipond (Slaughter), Phillips.