Plenty of positives for Spartans in Cowdenbeath defeat

On the face of it a 4-1 home reverse looks like a heavy defeat for Blyth Spartans.

But there were plenty of positives against Cowdenbeath in Saturday’s friendly for Tom Wade’s men.

An disciplined first half show saw them take a lead into half-time, buoyed by the impressive debut of Ben Sayer and the dangerous link-up play of Dan Maguire and Robbie Dale.

But a fractious second half with Wade making nine changes and the clinical finishing of the visitors led to them sealing the win.

The first chance fell to Spartans as early as the third minute as Jarret Rivers’ touch allowed Maguire to curl towards the far post but his shot just went wide.

The pressure continued and when Sayer switched play he allowed one of Spartans trialists to break forward from right back and unleash a 25-yard effort just over the bar.

The visitors’ first chance came on 20 minutes as Nat Wedderburn brought the ball out of defence and after a one-two was in on goal. However, he was forced wide by the pressure of Spartans’ trialist keeper but centre back Wedderburn rolled the ball back to Lewis Milne but the alert defending of Danny Parker saw the former Bishop Auckland man clear off the line.

Spartans came roaring back and felt that they should have taken the lead on 34 minutes, only to be denied by the assistant’s flag.

Dale’s intricate through ball released Maguire in on goal and the striker made no mistake as he delicately dinked the ball over the advancing keeper. But his celebrations were cut short as the flag went up on the borderline decision.

On 38 minutes Spartans got the goal their impressive first half deserved.

Ian Watson’s ball down the line found Dale who played an incisive one-two with Maguire that allowed Dale to get into the area and after turning Brownlie he coolly slotted home.

Nine changes were made during the interval with only Nathan Buddle and Danny Parker staying on.

One of the new men, Dan Hawkins, almost extended Spartans lead just three minutes into the half but the striker saw a 25-yard effort swerve just wide of the far post.

Hawkins was at the heart of the play again on the hour mark. Finding space on the right side of the area the former Bishop Auckland man chipped to the far post and that was met by the head of Arran Wearmouth, but his header from point blank range brought an excellent stop from keeper Thomson.

The visitors got back in the game on 67 minutes as Buddle’s slip allowed Craig Johnston to place the ball expertly past Niall Harrison, although the Spartans keeper got a hand to the ball he couldn’t stop it going in.

Eight minutes later ‘Beath were ahead as captain John Armstrong met a corner from the right with a looping header that nestled just under the bar.

With ten minutes remaining Spartans had a great chance to get on level terms through Paul Robinson.

The former Whitley Bay midfielder twisted and turned on the edge of the area, giving him just enough space to unleash a vicious 20 yarder that was tipped over the bar by Thomson.

The visitors took over the game in the last ten minutes and Chris Kane extended their lead with seven minutes remaining with a cool finish from just inside the area.

To put a truly flattering look on the scoreline they grabbed a fourth with just four minutes on the clock.

Some sloppy play in midfield led to a break and Johnston grabbed his second goal, rolling past Harrison expertly from ten yards.

A disappointing look to the scoreline but Spartans will look to the positives as they continue their building towards the new season.

Next up is the visit to Croft Park of Shildon on Tuesday night.

Blyth Spartans: Trialist, Trialist, Parker, Buddle, Watson, Sayer, Horner, Wade, Rivers, Dale, Maguire. Subs: Harrison, Trialist, Trialist, Cummings, Hooks, Robinson, Trialist, Moore, Wearmouth.

Cowdenbeath: Flynn, Miller, Adamson, Brownlie, Armstrong, Wedderburn, Robertson, Milne, Trialist, Trialist, Stewart. Subs: Brett, O’Brien, Campbell, Kane, Callaghan, Johnston, Branch, Thomson.

Attendance: 266.