Nicholson and Richardson on target for Spartans

Blyth Spartans' Alex Nicholson. Picture by Bill Broadley
Blyth Spartans' Alex Nicholson. Picture by Bill Broadley

Goals from Alex Nicholson and Michael Richardson helped Blyth Spartans complete a pre-season Northern League double over Newcastle Benfield.

The win came four days after Tom Wade’s side had beaten Benfield’s league rivals Ashington on Friday evening.

There was one change in the Spartans line-up from their win over the Colliers, with Damen Mullen replacing injured trialist Andrew Cartwright at right back.

A low key opening saw Spartans in control of possession without ever really troubling Sam Busby in the hosts’ net.

Indeed the first chance fell to Benfield as Steven Baptiste stung the palms of Adam McHugh with a testing drive from the edge of the area.

Robbie Dale led the Blyth riposte, and after seeing off the close attentions of Liam Anderson he was given a sight of goal.

However, he could only curl his right foot effort wide of Busby’s far post with the keeper never really in trouble.

Despite monopolising possession, Spartans were unable to find a breakthrough as half chances came and went.

Richardson almost added to his hat-trick at Ashington with a neat chip that sailed over the crossbar, but that was about as good as it got for Spartans.

That was until the 38th minute mark when they were gifted the opener.

Carl Paterson mishit a backpass towards Busby and that allowed Nicholson to seize upon the loose ball before rolling the ball confidently past the Benfield number one and into the far corner.

It was a lead that Spartans deserved and one that they took into half-time.

Ten minutes into the second half they had chances to double their lead with three openings in quick succession.

Sean Reid broke down the right and his square ball found Nicholson who was denied by a last ditch tackle from former Spartans defender Stephen Tobin.

The loose ball fell to Dale and his curling effort seemed destined for the far corner but Busby managed to tip it wide for a corner.

Stephen Turnbull’s out-swinging cross caused havoc in the hosts’ defence and the ball eventually found its way to Danny Parker, but the centre back could only drive the ball wide of the far post.

With the clock ticking down Spartans continued their search for a second, although not before Benfield had a goal ruled out for offside as the linesman’s flag cut Dan Taylor’s celebrations short.

One of Spartans’ trialists, former Carlisle United defender Dillon Morse, came close to grabbing a second goal as he rose to meet a fine Dale cross from the left.

With keeper Busby beaten Morse seemed to have scored but his powerful header came off the crossbar before being cleared to safety.

A killer second goal was to come with five minutes left on the clock.

An incisive Dale through ball released another of Spartans’ trialists, Bruno Pilatos, into the left hand side of the area and the former Jarrow Roofing midfielder took his time to pick out Richardson and the former Newcastle United midfielder made no mistake with a routine finish from six yards out.

That rounded off a comfortable win for Spartans, although they were tested by some physical challenges from the home side.

Tom Wade’s side now prepare to welcome Edinburgh Spartans on Saturday for their penultimate pre-season fixture.

Blyth Spartans: McHugh, Mullen, Watson, Parker, Hutchinson, Turnbull, Wade, Dale, Reid, Richardson, Nicholson. Subs: Bramley, A Trialist, B Trialist, C Trialist, Robinson, Bell.

Attendance: 260.