Rivers snatches late FA Cup winner for Blyth Spartans

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Jarrett Rivers’ injury time winner saw Blyth Spartans through to the final qualifying round of the FA Cup against Leek Town as they saw off Mickleover Sports on Saturday.

The former Whitley Bay winger came off the bench and fired home from ten yards to send the impressive band of the Green Army delirious.

A lightning fast start from Spartans almost saw them go ahead within three minutes.

A wonderful volleyed pass from Dan Maguire released Robbie Dale into the right hand side of the area and he twisted and turned his way past Chris Palmer before lashing a low drive that was bravely blocked by keeper Chris Martin.

The home side found their feet gradually and caused trouble for the Spartans back four on the quarter hour mark.

Livewire winger Andy Dales fired a wicked cross into the area that was narrowly missed by Karl Ashton. But the ball found its way to the left hand side and Palmer played it right across the six-yard box with no Sports defender able to get a decisive touch.

After a hectic start the game finally settled down, although the home side’s hard-working forward line of the two Karls - Ashton and Demidh - were always a threat.

Ten minutes before the break Spartans had a great chance thanks to the creativity of Maguire as the forward twisted to find space 20 yards out and lashed a low drive that was saved at full length by Martin.

Spartans took the lead seven minutes before the break as Dale turned on some magic. He danced along the byline past a lacklustre challenge by Kevin Grocott before rolling home from a narrow angle with the ball taking a slight deflection on the way in.

But it was a lead Spartans could not hold until the interval. Set pieces seemed to be the most dangerous aspect of Mickleover’s play and it proved to be their way back into the game.

Three minutes before half-time Nico Degirolamo met an in-swinging corner from the left by Dales and headed home from eight yards out.

Just as they had in the first half, Spartans started the second on top and almost took the lead after just five minutes.

Arran Wearmouth cut in from the right and jinked past a desperate challenge from Palmer before lashing a left foot effort just past the near post from the edge of the box.

Despite their positive start Spartans could and perhaps should have gone behind two minutes later.

A wicked cross from the right sailed over the head of Nathan Buddle and was met by Ashton who should have done better but only found the arms of Peter Jeffries with an eight-yard header.

The hour mark saw a change for Spartans as Rivers replaced Wearmouth, and it proved to be the game changer, although the winger had to wait to make an impact as the game surprisingly slowed down with both sides having plenty of possession without threatening.

With ten minutes left the home side seemed to tire with Spartans having the majority of the play. The influence of Dale grew and not for the first time this season his link up with Rivers was to prove to be key for Tom Wade’s side.

Although the winner was to come from that source, there would be two missed chances by Rivers. Within the space of three minutes he twice met pull backs from Dale but could only fire over the bar.

However, two minutes into injury time it was to be third time lucky as Dale fired a cross into the area that found its way to Rivers and a snap-shot from 12 yards rolled into the far corner to set both the Spartans bench and supporters wild.

Spartans: Jeffries, Nicholson, Watson, Buddle, Hutchinson, Turnbull (Hooks), Wearmouth (Rivers), Hawkins, Maguire, Wade, Dale. Subs not used: Perez, Quinn, Mullen, Dixon, Cummings.

Attendance: 611.