Magnificent seven for Blyth Spartans in FA Trophy

Blyth Spartans supporters were in seventh heaven on Tuesday night as their side marched into the next round of the Buildbase FA Trophy with a magnificent 7-1 replay win over Goole AFC.

Thursday, 3rd November 2016, 10:17 am
Updated Wednesday, 16th November 2016, 4:01 pm
Blyth Spartans striker Dan Maguire. Picture by Bill Broadley

Daniel Maguire and substitute Luke Armstrong both shared four first half goals before Goole reduced their arrears at the start of the second period through a fortuitous Danny Chambers strike.

The two Blyth strikers then completed hat-tricks before Richard Pell headed home with two minutes to go to complete the rout and see Spartans progress into the second qualifying round.

Blyth manager Alun Armstrong opted for a changed defence from Saturday’s 1-1 draw, with Pell replacing Gavin Caines and Chris Bell starting ahead of Andrew Cartwright.

Saturday substitutes Damen Mullen and Stephen Turnbull were named in the heart of midfield, while returning club captain Robert Dale was among the substitutes.

Spartans had laboured to a draw at the Victoria Pleasure Ground, but looked to be up for the replay right from the off as Michael Richardson’s cross was deflected behind for a corner within 12 seconds of the start of the game.

With eight minutes gone, Goole goalkeeper Jody Barford was called into action for the first time as he intercepted a cross from Richardson, but he was unable to keep possession of the ball and Sean Reid reacted quickest only to see his attempted knock back to Maguire cut out by a defender.

Maguire was causing the Vikings’ defence all sorts of problems in the opening 15 minutes and looked to opening the scoring when he took the ball down brilliantly at the edge of the box. He played the ball out to Richardson on the right and anticipated the cross back in, but was just unable to meet the return across the box.

The prolific striker was not to be denied though as, less than a minute later, he produced a moment of magic to break the deadlock. Turnbull’s deep corner was headed down at the back post by Pell into the path of Maguire, and with his back to goal in a crowded box, he opted for an audacious overhead kick to beat Barford.

Blyth were in the ascendancy but were forced into a change just 20 minutes in as Reid picked up a knee injury from Alex Varley’s hard challenge. Both received treatment, but while the Goole defender was able to play on, Reid hobbled off the pitch and was replaced by Armstrong.

And Armstrong was close to enjoying the perfect introduction after just six minutes on the pitch when he capitalised on a defensive mix-up to get in one-on-one. The young striker tried to place the ball past an advancing Barford but the experienced keeper was able to deny him with an instinctive stop.

The home side didn’t dwell on that miss for too long though as they went further ahead from the resulting corner.

Yet again Turnbull whipped in the set-piece and found the head of Pell, who nodded the ball onto the back post and into the path of Jarrett Rivers. His shot across goal was diverted towards goal by Richardson before Maguire lashed the ball in on the line to claim his second.

Goole had been a shadow of the side that battled so valiantly four days ago, but they had a good chance to halve the lead on 35 minutes.

Nathan Modest, whose half-time introduction reinvigorated the Vikings in the original tie, picked out Obeni Ruhanduka from the left, but the forward fired agonisingly wide with a first-time effort.

Spartans certainly took heed of that warning shot and went 3-0 up just two minutes later.

Maguire picked out Armstrong with a low cross from the left. The substitute had time to turn and pick his spot from a tight angle and fired across Barford and into the bottom corner.

With two minutes to go before the break, Blyth further asserted their first half dominance with a fourth when Armstrong grabbed his second.

This time it was Turnbull who played the ball to the 20-year-old. Armstrong controlled it well with his right and then fired past Barford with his left, despite the keeper getting a hand on the shot.

Armstrong had to wait just two minutes into the start of the second half for his first chance at his hat-trick, when Rivers’ run saw the ball land at his feet. The striker pulled the trigger but his shot was blocked away by Jacob Stannard.

Rivers then tried one himself from the edge of the area, when he tried to curl one around Barford. However, the stopper got down to save well and palm the ball to safety.

Despite continuing their dominance at the start of the second half, Spartans handed Goole a lifeline with some farcical defending on 54 minutes.

Adam McHugh dropped the ball after making a save, before Caines, who had replaced Ryan Hutchinson at half-time, stalled on the ball. His clearance then deflected up off the body of Chambers in the box and looped in off the crossbar.

Having seen their clean sheet disappear in disappointing fashion, Spartans looked to celebrate once more down the other end after the hour mark as, this time, Maguire went close to claiming his hat-trick. Turnbull picked him out perfectly at the near post, but his powerful header flashed wide across goal.

Richardson had produced a fine display on the wing and looked certain to top his evening with a goal when he was found in space inside the area. The midfielder unleashed an unstoppable effort at goal but it went mere inches over the crossbar.

Spartans had already conceded one after some poor defending and they were nearly caught out again when substitute Alex Nicholson conceded possession to Bobby Johnson. The Goole midfielder played in Chambers, but his shot across McHugh trickled wide.

The visiting Vikings would come to rue that miss as Spartans added to their haul with a hat-trick for Maguire.

Richardson made a menace of himself with a shot from the edge of the box, which was spilled by Barford and Maguire fired the rebound in for his third of the night.

Pell had provided a threat from most of Blyth’s set-pieces all night and really should have been rewarded with a goal when he headed wide from Turnbull’s cross. The resulting corner was a frustrating sense of deja-vu for the centre-back as he headed Turnbull’s ball in wide once more.

Spartans’ man of the match Maguire had claimed the first Spartans hat-trick of the season, but the Croft Park faithful did not have long to wait for the second as Chris Bell played a low ball across the box on 86 minutes. It went straight to Armstrong who made no mistake to notch a third as two Spartans players claimed hat-tricks in the same match for the first time in 31 years.

And just when it looked like the action had finished, Pell was rewarded for his prowess in the box with two minutes to go as he finally found the net with a header from another Turnbull corner.

With a comprehensive win over Goole at the second time of asking, Blyth’s reward is a home tie against follow Evo-Stik Premier League side Halesowen Town in the next round of the Buildbase FA Trophy.

A seven-goal rout in their seventh game unbeaten will surely give them added confidence boost ahead of Spartans’ league trip to Barwell this Saturday.

Blyth Spartans: McHugh, Cartwright, Bell, Mullen, Pell, Hutchinson (Caines 46), Rivers, Turnbull, Maguire, Reid (Armstrong 25), Richardson. Subs not used: Dale, Nicholson, Wade.

Attendance: 440.