Spartans dominant to take three points off Telford
BLYTH SPARTANS 2AFC TELFORD 0A late goal from Robbie Dale and an own-goal from Theo Streete ensured Blyth Spartans claimed a deserved three points in a dominant performance at Croft Park.
World class first-half saves from AFC Telford goalkeeper Russell Griffiths made it look like it was going to be a frustrating day for Spartans.
Dale, however, popped up his first competitive goal since coming out of retirement to put those worries to bed in the 86th minute.
The game was finished off in stoppage time when substitute Lewis McNall had an effort that was saved before being put into his own net by Streete.
Telford started the strongest with Dom McHale forcing Alex Mitchell into a save in the early stages of the game.
This was followed up later with Elliott Durrell’s cross turned shot looking like it could loop over the head of Mitchell but he was able to catch the ball.
Spartans managed to find their tempo as the game progressed with Dan Maguire causing trouble when he got the ball onto his left foot just outside the box and had a curling effort towards the far corner that went just over the bar.
JJ O’Donnell was denied a certain goal when Nicky Deverdics whipped in a great free-kick that found the striker’s head but it was spectacularly saved by Griffiths with the following shot rattling against post before Telford were able to get the ball cleared.
Deverdics continued to cause problems for Telford. This time, it was an audacious curling effort from out on the right wing that looped its way onto the roof of the net.
Spartans continued to dominate proceedings. Connor Thomson whipped in a great ball into the box that took enough of a touch of the head of a Telford defender to make it awkward for O’Donnell to head. His resulting header was glanced wide of the far post.
Griffiths was on form again to deny Spartans a goal. A beautifully weighted cross found O’Donnell in space but his effort was fantastically saved by Griffiths who managed to get down low to save it.
Blyth made sure to keep the pressure on the Telford. An excellent passage of play saw Deverdics skillfully get past his marker then find Karl Byrne with a great ball forward. Byrne then charged forward before cutting inside and playing the ball to Deverdics who then pinged the ball over the top of the Telford backline for Dale whose shot was blocked.
Some quick thinking from Dale from a free-kick allowed Thomson to take the Telford defence by surprise and get himself a run at goal. Telford managed to get players back to block the Thomson’s initial shot with his follow-up shot being sent over the bar.
Telford found themselves in a bit of self-made trouble when Maguire put a ball into the box that Nathan Pond tried to hoof clear but instead he sliced the ball sending it up and out for a corner.
Spartans then found themselves making mistakes of their own when a defensive error at the back allowed Durrell to have an effort at goal that was impressively saved by Mitchell. The resulting corner was sent in for the head of Pond who headed it to the feet of White. White’s effort went well over the bar.
Telford managed to get back into the game towards the end of the first half with White at the heart of it. First, he sent a ball long into the box for Street, who’s effort was hammered over the bar. Then, White found himself on the end of a free-kick from Durrell but his headed effort went over the bar.
Blyth got one last chance before half-time. Thomson went on an impressive run down the right. He managed to muscle the defender off himself but his touch was just too far in front of him and Griffiths was able to smash it clear.
In the 48th minute, a great flick on from Maguire managed to find Deverdics in the box but his strike at goal is impressively saved by Griffiths. Blyth kept the pressure on with a wicked delivery by Deverdics that Griffiths was forced to awkwardly diverted behind for a corner. The resulting corner was delivered to the near post to O’Donnell, who flicked his header over the bar.
Telford got a chance to put the heat on Spartans when Durrell’s free-kick forced Blyth frantically clear it away for a corner.
There were calls for a Blyth penalty when O’Donnell was punched in the head by Griffiths. The referee stopped the play with Spartans in possession but gave a drop ball for Telford instead of a penalty to Spartans.
Spartans continued to put the pressure on Telford as the game rolled on. O’Donnell had an effort at goal that was scoffed wide before Watson had an effort himself that was blocked.
Second-half substitute Corey McKeown made an immediate impact when he forced a save from Griffiths at his near post. Blyth kept pushing and pushing with Hickey having a strike from distance that drifted wide of the far post.
Blyth finally broke the deadlock in the 86th minute when Dale got the ball on the right side of the box and buried it into the far corner past Griffiths – his 213th goal for the club on his 683rd appearance.
That wasn’t enough for Spartans as they pushed for a second goal with McNall finding himself in behind but his effort was blocked by Pond and the ball rolled into the path of Griffiths.
Blyth finished the game off in stoppage time, when they found themselves four on one. McNall’s strike was saved by Griffiths but it rebounded off Streete and into the net.
Telford had one last chance at goal with second half substitute Williams having a strike but it was easily gathered by Mitchell.