Richardson strikes late as Spartans come from behind

Blyth Spartans' Michael Richardson, centre, is congratulated by team-mates after his late winner against Curzon Ashton. Picture by Bill Broadley
Blyth Spartans' Michael Richardson, centre, is congratulated by team-mates after his late winner against Curzon Ashton. Picture by Bill Broadley

Goals from Dan Maguire and Michael Richardson capped off a superb fightback from Blyth Spartans as they overturned a half-time deficit to take three vital points against Curzon Ashton.

A poor first half gave way to a much improved second period as Tom Wade’s side put the Lancashire outfit under pressure and were just about deserving of their win, although for 45 minutes it looked as if it was going to be a disappointing day for the Green Army.

Twenty minutes of play best described as turgid left supporters of both sides without anything to warm them up on a bitterly cold Northumberland day.

That was until the visitors came within a whisker of taking the lead. Matthew Warburton stepped inside the challenge of Joel Dixon on the left hand side of the Spartans area and unleashed a 15-yard thunderbolt that crashed off the underside of Peter Jeffries’ crossbar before being cleared to safety by Ryan Hutchinson.

The visitors were on top and dominating possession and Spartans were grateful for the alertness of Jeffries as he pounced on a Ryan Brooke header at the far post.

The Curzon winger had tried to head back from the byline to find Niall Cummings inside the six-yard box but Jeffries managed to reach the ball first to deny the visitors what would have been a deserved lead.

Spartans finally created a chance in the 27th minute as some neat work from Maguire down the left allowed the striker the chance to roll the ball back to the penalty spot, but Steven Turnbull was denied his first Spartans goal by a brave block from Thomas Eckersley as the Curzon defender deflected Turnbull’s 12-yard volley away from goal.

The visitors took the lead four minutes before the break with a goal from Matthew Warburton.

The striker was played through by Sam Walker but could only roll his effort against Jeffries’[ far post, but the loose ball ran to Niall Cummings and he was afforded too much time to cross into the six-yard area where Warburton headed home unmarked.

Spartans almost hit back within a minute as an almighty scramble inside the Curzon area saw two brave blocks deny Maguire and Robbie Dale.

Several Curzon defenders attempted to clear but the ball fell to Maguire who was blocked by a brave piece of goalkeeping by Curzon number one Cameron Mason, but it fell to Dale who was 12 yards out but he was denied by another block by Eckersley.

Spartans’ poor first half was somewhat forgotten within three minutes of the restart.

The strength of Dan Hawkins allowed him the time and space to release Maguire into the right hand side of the area and the striker did not need asking twice to finish as he unleashed a wicked angled drive that nestled just inside Mason’s far post.

Spartans almost completed a wonderful turnaround on the hour mark when they were awarded a free kick 20 yards from goal. Michael Richardson stepped up to take it and was left ruing a full length stop from Mason as the Curzon keeper parried the former Newcastle United academy midfielder’s shot that seemed destined for the top right hand corner.

Just as they had on the equaliser, Hawkins and Maguire combined on 66 minutes. Again Hawkins found a yard of space in midfield and released Maguire, this time into the left hand side of the Curzon area where the striker tried his luck with a left volley that sneaked past the far post.

Referee Paul Newhouse took centre stage in the minutes that followed with several decisions that flummoxed both sets of supporters.

After a foul on Spartans keeper Jeffries by Curzon substitute Luke Horrocks, a drop ball was awarded much to the chagrin of the majority inside Croft Park.

With just five minutes on the clock Spartans took the lead in somewhat comical circumstances.

A long ball forward from Nathan Buddle was misjudged by Eckersley and Richardson pounced to roll the ball past Mason for his first Croft Park goal in his Spartans career.

Spartans saw out the remaining time comfortably with a dogged final period and set themselves up nicely for a tough looking trip to Ilkeston on Monday evening before they welcome Barwell to Croft Park on Saturday.

Spartans: Jeffries, Dixon, Mullen (Richardson 20), Hutchinson, Buddle, Stp Turnbull (Hooks 84), Nicholson, Hawkins, Maguire, Stv Turnbull. Dale Subs not used: Wade, Parker, Watson.

Attendance: 503.