BLYTH Spartans FC went out with a whimper in their final league game of the season against Worcester City at St George’s Lane on Saturday.
Kyonn Evans scored the only goal of a dismal game after seven minutes as Blyth were unable to find the net for the fifth game running before making the long journey back to the north east.
After a terrific mid-season, in which they were the form team in Blue Square Bet North, Mick Tait’s side have faded badly during the run-in, and this performance summed up their recent displays.
Backed by a 100-strong following, the Spartans players failed to inspire the travelling hordes with this inept showing and must now pick themselves up ahead of their Northumberland Senior Cup Final clash with Newcastle United Reserves on Wednesday if they are to have any chance of claiming a trophy they have not lifted since 1994.
Worcester have flirted with relegation throughout this campaign, but their safety was confirmed weeks before this scrappy contest, played out on a dust-bowl of a pitch.
The solitary goal that clinched victory for the hosts came in the first meaningful attack of the game when a quick free kick from Marc McGregor found Evans in the area.
He turned away from Wayne Buchanan to finish low past Blyth goalkeeper Dan Lowson.
The visitors had to endure what was quite literally an uphill struggle for the remainder of the first half as they found the sloping pitch, the wind and a resolute Worcester back-line too much to overcome.
Lowson was the busier of the two goalkeepers and made a routine stop from Kevin O’Connor before denying Simon Richman in spectacular fashion.
At the other end, Rob Dale had the ball in the Worcester net, but play was brought back for an earlier infringement by Blyth defender Chris Swailes.
Paul Brayson then hooked a shot over his shoulder which sailed high and wide of Dean Coleman’s far post, typifying the threat – or lack of it – posed by Blyth in the opening period.
After the interval, Brayson found himself in a far better position to restore parity for his side when he latched on to a long kick from Lowson but could only lift his effort over the crossbar when under pressure from Rob Elvins.
A tremendous last-ditch tackle from Buchanan denied McGregor a simple tap-in from six yards and kept Blyth in with a chance of salvaging something from the game.
John Alexander replaced the ineffective Liam O’Mahoney on 49 minutes, and it was his lay-off which found Alan White in the area, but the defender’s shot on the turn failed to find the target.
In the best passing move of the game, Michael Tait, Stephen Turnbull and Brayson were all involved, with the ball finally reaching Dale, who struck a powerful shot which was well held by Coleman at his near post.
Coleman managed to hold on to his clean sheet with a magnificent double save to deny Brayson, first from a header and then from the follow-up, which the goalkeeper tipped on to his post.
At the other end, Buchanan made another crucial intervention, which prevented Luke Bottomer from gaining a sight at goal.
The game would then fizzle out after Turnbull, pictured with his trophy for being named fans’ player of the year, dragged wide and Lowson saved from O’Connor, with the final ten minutes resembling a very poor training ground match.
Blyth Spartans: Lowson, Groves, Buchanan, Tait, Swailes, White, Hooks, Turnbull, Brayson, O’Mahoney (Alexander), Dale. Man of the match: Buchanan.