Leaders Blyth Spartans beaten by nearest challengers Workington

Blyth Spartans skipper Robbie Dale. Picture by Bill Broadley
Blyth Spartans skipper Robbie Dale. Picture by Bill Broadley

Second in the table Workington proved too much for a depleted Blyth Spartans side in Cumbria on Tuesday evening.

The Reds won 2-0 against top of the table Blyth who, nevertheless, still head up the table.

The visitors were equal to their rivals in the opening exchanges with Wilson Kneeshaw nearly creating an opening on two occasions before Spartans had to rely on goalkeeper Adam McHugh to dive and collect the ball in a scramble within his six-yard box.

The first clear cut chance came after seven minutes when Workington winger Conor Tinnion found himself in space 20 yards out, but he carelessly side-footed over the bar.

At the other end a last ditch tackle by Sam Smith denied the live wire Kneeshaw, then Aaron Wearmouth fired wide.

The home side should have taken the lead on 20 minutes and it was Tinnion again who was the culprit.

In a similar position to his previous effort, he attempted a curling shot aimed at the top corner of McHugh’s net but it was too high.

Workington were now pressing with speed and power, and before the interval Blyth defenders Dillon Morse and Nathan Buddle came to the rescue with strong clearing headers.

Blyth started the second half looking more confident and assured.

Robbie Dale put Michael Richardson through on goal but Reds keeper Alex Mitchell was out smartly to smother the ball.

A Dale free kick from 35 yards sailed over the bar before Rob Wilson came up with a similar effort at the other end.

Blyth came close to taking the lead on 61 minutes when Kneeshaw cut in from the left and picked out Matty Wade 20 yards from goal. The midfielder steadied himself and unleashed a rasping shot which Mitchell could only palm over his bar and away for a corner.

Kneeshaw then chased down Mitchell as he went to clear through ball. The keeper’s kick only found Dale who, attempting to catch the keeper off his line, spooned his long range first time shot high and wide.

Workington started to wrest the initiative back and on 69 minutes it needed a timely tackle by stand-in centre half Sean Reid to deny Joe McGee.

McGee then found himself with time in the penalty box but his control let him down and the half chance was gone.

The Reds did score, however, on 75 minutes when Blyth lost the ball in midfield. Jake Simpson pounced and then unleashed a superb strike which rocketed into the top corner of the Blyth goal from 25 yards.

Within minutes Simpson tried to emulate his devastating strike but defender Jordan Watson bravely flung himself in front of the full back to block his shot.

Blyth responded when Dale’s free kick from wide almost found the head of Reid at the back post but Workington managed to clear as the Blyth man went to attack the ball.

Workington responded immediately and extended their lead though substitute Scott Allison who found himself behind the Blyth defence and McHugh could do nothing to stop Allison’s shot flying over his head and in to the net.

In the dying minutes Richardson shot narrowly wide and a Dale free kick was collected with ease by Mitchell.

Blyth now travel to Hyde United on Saturday and the next game at Croft Park is on Tuesday, February 9, when they entertain Ilkeston, kick-off 7.45pm.

Blyth Spartans: A McHugh, D Morse, J Watson, N Buddle, S Reid, D Mullen (N Hooks 93), A Wearmouth, M Richardson, W Kneeshaw, R Dale. Subs not used: A Davis, P Robinson, A Nicholson, F Otte.

Attendance: 774.