Spartans brought back down to earth by Kings Lynn

Could there be a bigger contrast in emotions? Where seven days earlier Blyth Spartans had basked in the glory of a six-goal FA Trophy demolition of Skelmersdale United they were brought back to earth by a determined Kings Lynn Town side.

A Damen Mullen wonder strike was not enough for Tom Wade’s side as the Linnets took the points thanks to some clinical finishing, resolute defending and a small dose of good old fashioned luck.

Wade handed a debut to loan striker Sonny Andrews after he completed his temporary move from Spennymoor Town on Friday, and he took the place of Ash Davis who had a stomach injury.

Matthew Wade and Robbie Dale also returned to the lineup in place of Arran Wearmouth and Phil Airey, both of whom took their places on the bench.

The opening period was all about the visitors as they enthusiastically set about their task, and they duly got their reward in the twelfth minute, although there was a more than obvious element of fortune about the goal.

Linnets winger Jake Jones broke forward and struck at goal from just inside the Spartans area, but his effort was closed down by Mullen only for the ball to deflect off the Spartans man and loop up and over Michal Misiewicz before dropping just underneath the crossbar and into the net.

A deflection almost gave Spartans an equaliser minutes later as Andrews came close to a debut goal.

His header from a Dan Maguire cross was deflected wide of the post by a brave block from Richard Bunting.

The visitors were defending well and frustrating Spartans with constant pressure and ease, and only a Matthew Wade volley from 20 yards threatened their lead.

That was until five minutes before the break, and the goal was worth the wait.

An Ian Watson cross from the left was headed to the edge of the Linnets area and was seized upon by Maguire. His strength held off Fryatt and the ball ran loose to Mullen who crashed a 25-yard left footed effort into the net with Town keeper Street grasping at thin air.

Spartans nearly went into the half-time break in front as Robbie Dale danced past George Thomson on the left side of the area. Dale cut back in on his right foot but his curling effort went narrowly past the angle.

The opening minutes of the second half summed up the fine margins of the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League.

Just five minutes in Dale nearly scored a contender for goal of the season as he weaved his way from the half way line past three visiting defenders and into the box. The Spartans winger found himself in on the angle of the box but his low strike was parried by Street. The rebound fell to Maguire ten yards out but he was off balance and could not make a strong enough connection to force the ball over the line.

That miss was to cost Spartans just minutes later as the visitors took the lead.

A quick break from a Spartans attack saw Daniel Jacob break into the right hand side of the area. His pull back found its way to Andrew Hall and the Linnets winger smashed a low effort into the net from the edge of the box.

For all of their composure the visitors seemed to get nervy and dropped further and further back into their half as the clocked ticked on.

That invited Spartans pressure and the Linnets were grateful to their keeper Street for maintaining their lead.

He bravely blocked at the feet of substitute Phil Airey having parried an Andrews cross into the path of the Spartans man, and moments later produced another strong stop to deny the in-form Craig Hubbard yet another goal.

Having soaked up Spartans’ pressure the visitors extended their lead and effectively ended the game with eight minutes left on the clock.

Another dose of pressure forced an error in the Spartans midfield and Linnets substitute Gregory Mills seized on the loose ball just inside the area and he shot across goal and it sneaked inside the far post to set off wild celebrations for the visiting bench.

Spartans kept on going until the final whistle and Mullen almost added to his earlier wonder strike with a superb drive that narrowly missed the far post.

The Craig Hubbard saw an overhead kick dribble just past the post.

However ,Spartans could not grab a goal and the visitors deservedly took the points.

In a season that has produced so many highs for Spartans they were always going to be some lows.

However ,in perspective Wade’s young side have surpassed expectations with the performances this term and were due a defeat.

A poor performance no doubt about it, but whereas some Spartans sides have merely surrendered on days like this, to their credit this side did not hide.

While frustrations were high inside Croft Park there is salvation in the fact there is an opportunity to put the defeat behind them as Frickley Athletic come calling on Tuesday night.

Spartans’ man of the match: Dan Maguire.

Blyth Spartans: Misiweicz, Mullen, Purewal, Buddle, Watson, Wade (Airey 72), Horner (Hooks 68), Hubbard, Dale, Andrews, Maguire Subs not used: Wearmouth, Kendrick, Parker.

Attendance: 403.