Maguire goal enough to keep Blyth Spartans' advantage intact
Blyth Spartans came away from Lincolnshire on Saturday with three points and their leadership of the Evo-Stik Premier League intact.
A 1-0 victory over Stamford was a hard worked one but nevertheless deserved.
Spartans went straight on the attack with a mazy run by Aaron Wearmouth setting up Daniel Maguire, but the striker slipped and the half chance was lost.
A fine ball from returning midfielder Matthew Wade picked out Robbie Dale on Blyth’s left but his low drive was well collected by veteran keeper Paul Bastock in the home goal.
Stamford could well have taken the lead on nine minutes but Jake Duffy fired well over from just inside the box.
The Daniels pressed forward and it needed a good diving save by Blyth’s Adam McHugh to deny Ollie Luto.
Stamford’s lone striker Greg Smith was making his physical presence felt, sometimes fairly and other times less so, but it was the visitors who took the game to their hosts.
Dale fired narrowly over from 20 yards before Bastock could only parry away a further Dale effort. It fell to Maguire but his early shot was cleared away for a corner.
Dale was a constant nuisance to the Stamford defence and it needed a well judged Tom Batchelor header to clear another of the Spartans captain’s efforts.
McHugh was called in to action to dive at Curtis Hartley’s feet as Stamford looked to create something on the break, but just before the interval a wicked Dale low cross just eluded the on-rushing Michael Richardson at the far post.
Spartans came out after half-time maintaining a good tempo and controlled passing style, with Matthew Wade and Damen Mullen the epitome of calm assuredness in the middle of the park.
Richardson came close to breaking the deadlock but the bounce of the ball beat him when he appeared to be in with a shooting opportunity.
Marauding full back Alex Nicholson had a stinging drive only just dealt with by Bastock before Wearmouth tested the keeper once again with a 30-yard drive which the keeper did well to tip over the bar.
Blyth’s pressure told on the hour when a surging run from midfield by central defender Nathan Bubble saw him fire well from distance. Once again Bastock failed to collect cleanly and Maguire was on hand to calmly stoke the ball home from three yards out to put Spartans ahead.
The home keeper continued to be the focus of the game as Nicholson again was denied by the goalkeeper’s fumbled clearance.
The Daniels made three substitutions with 25 minutes remaining and it produced their best, albeit short-lived, spell of the encounter.
Sam Hill shot well over from 20 yards and Greg Smith, acrobatically, swivelled and shot towards goal but he could not keep the ball down and it sailed well clear of McHugh’s bar.
However, Blyth resumed the initiative and Maguire found himself in a one versus two scenario on the edge of the penalty box. The striker did well to get a shot away but it was cleared.
Bastock went on to save well from Kneeshaw before the home keeper again foiled Maguire.
Mullen looked likely to extend Blyth’s lead in the final five minutes but he drove his shot narrowly wide of the far post.
Blyth Spartans: A McHugh, A Nicholson, J Watson, N Buddle, D Morse, D Mullen, A Wearmouth (A Cartwright 85), M Richardson (W Kneeshaw 57), D Maguire, M Wade (S Reid 76), R Dale. Subs not used: D Parker, P Robinson.