Spartans’ anguish at loss to Stockport

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Blyth bSpartans 0-1 Stockport County

A dominant Blyth Spartans were left frustrated by a collection of contentious decisions just before the break – as referee John Matthews’ mistakes gifted Vanarama National League North playoff hopefuls Stockport County an undeserved 1-0 win on Saturday.

When a County corner went out for a throw-in on the far side off Jason Oswell at the end of a very evenly contested first half, Matthews mistakenly gave the visitors a throw-in. Blyth’s dismay was then compounded when Jimmy Ball smashed home from 18 yards following the restart, especially when they’d also appealed for a handball by Oswell in the build-up as well.

In addition to being unable to find an equaliser in a commanding second half showing, Spartans’ miserable final Saturday home game of the season also saw their squad depleted even further – as Jordan Laidler, Jarrett Rivers and Andrew Cartwright all hobbled off during the second half, to add insult to injury on a truly unforgettable afternoon against the former Football League side.

Spartans defender Ryan Hutchinson is likely to miss the majority of the 2018/19 season due to a knee injury picked up against Harrogate Town earlier this month.

‘Hutchy,’ who earned a call-up to and England ‘C’ squad earlier in the campaign has suffered injuries to is MCL, a ruptured cruciate ligament, part of his lateral cartilage and bone injuries.

“It’s going to be a long one for him, he’s picked quite a few injuries to his knee,” said physio Chris Bell. “He’s had an MRI scan a few days after the injury and was referred to a specialist – and he has a follow up with that soon which will determine the plan of action.

“But certainly he needs surgery, but we don’t have a date yet – and after that it’s going to be a long term rehabilitation for him – we’re talking more than nine months I imagine.”

The club will be running a fundraising initiative to help pay for the cost of Ryan’s operation – with insurance only covering the cost of missed employment time.

Armstrong added: “It’s devastating news, Hutchy has been a key player for us this year – and is a key part of the way we like to play.”