Late Kendrick penalty gives Wade a winning start

AN injury time penalty from Joe Kendrick ensured that Tom Wade became the first Blyth Spartans manager since Paul Baker to win his first game in full charge.

Kendrick’s spot kick coupled with goals from Dan Maguire and Stephen Turnbull meant Spartans will head into Tuesday night’s home fixture against Kendal Town looking to make it three wins in a row and complete the league double over the Mintcakes.

Wade’s first team selection saw him bring Richie Slaughter back into the starting line-up in place of the now departed Shaun Utterson, while Kendrick replaced Jordon Mellish alongside skipper Wayne Buchanan after an impressive comeback in last Tuesday’s 3-1 win at Kendal Town.

Spartans made a bright start and within two minutes the in-form Lee Mason broke away from midfield firing straight at Robins keeper Chris Martin.

The former Hartlepool United winger was at the heart of the action again on seven minutes as he volleyed a Slaughter cross just past the near post.

Five minutes later Spartans took the lead and it was Stephen Turnbull who made it two goals in three games since his return to the club.

The midfielder latched on the end of a flick from Robbie Dale and crashed a low left footed effort into the bottom corner of Martin’s goal to give his side a well deserved lead.

That goal provoked a reaction from Kevin Wilson’s side and they really should have been back on level terms within a minute as Aaron Hooton fired across the face of Grant’s goal when he was clean through.

Just after the 20-minute mark James Reid tested Grant with a 25-yard volley that was comfortably saved by the Spartans keeper.

That save was only a temporary reprieve for Spartans as two minutes later Ilkeston were level.

Matt Richards broke into the left hand side of the area and calmly rolled the ball across the six-yard box to find striker Alex Ford who finished well to bring his side level.

On an increasingly boggy pitch the game turned scrappy and neither side could create much before the interval with the final chance of the half falling to Dale as he fired past the angle of bar and post from 15 yards.

That meant the sides went into half-time level, which was fair given the even nature of the opening period.

If the opening of the first half was about Spartans, then the opening minutes of the second were certainly all about the visitors.

Midfielder James Reid crashed a low effort from the edge of the box just past Grant’s near post and Kane Richards fired wide from the angle of the box.

Those misses were punished in grand manner by Spartans as they conjured up a goal as far removed from the scrappy nature of the game as possible.

A ball into Maguire saw the striker hold off namesake Joe Maguire and find Dale on the right wing. He took one touch and whipped an excellent cross into the box that found Maguire and the former Seaton Delaval striker produced a superb diving header from ten yards.

That was his fourth goal in six games and the young forward is starting to become a firm fan favourite at Croft Park.

Just as in the first half though, Spartans could not build on their lead and allowed the Robins back into the game.

Winger Kane Richards beat Slaughter and dinked a cross to the far post. That caused havoc in the Spartans defence and they failed to clear, allowing Aaron Hooton to provide a simple finish from six yards out.

Richards should have given his side the lead as he brought a wonderful last ditch challenge from Damen Mullen when the winger should have finished from eight yards out.

With just under 20 minutes left Maguire nearly had his second as he just failed to connect with a wonderful far post cross from Turnbull.

By that time substitute Andy Jennings had replaced Phil Airey and the striker tested Martin from 12 yards as he spun in the box and forced the Robins keeper into a smart stop low down.

Then came the decisive moment in injury time as Jennings battled for the ball with Joe Maguire, the loose ball ran to Dale who went down under the challenge of Matt Richards.

It was a questionable spot kick but the referee seemed certain and did not hesitate to point to the spot.

That allowed Kendrick to step up and he crashed the ball into the roof of the net and give his manager a winning start to life in the Croft Park hot seat.

Blyth Spartans: Grant, Slaughter, Mullen, Buchanan, Kendrick, Mason, Turnbull, Hooks (Hubbard 81), Dale, Maguire, Airey (Jennings 68) Subs not used: Mellish, Stanger, Berj.

Attendance: 326.