Spartans lose ninth Senior Cup final in a row

ONCE again, St James’ Park proved to be an unhappy hunting ground for Blyth Spartans FC as a young Newcastle United Reserves strolled to a convincing victory in the final of the Northumberland FA Senior Cup.

Spartans have now lost their last nine finals in the competition, six of them to the Magpies’ second string, and never looked likely to cause an upset in this one-sided affair.

There was a strong contingent of Blyth fans amongst the 2,307 present, but supporters of the club may have forgotten what celebrating a goal feels like as another blank made it the sixth game in a row in which their team has failed to score.

An end-to-end opening saw both sides come close to breaking the deadlock, with Blyth’s Rob Dale and Newcastle’s Brad Inman dragging shots wide.

Paul Brayson then headed a Michael Tait cross wide of the upright before Phil Airey and Patrick McLaughlin threatened at the other end.

Peter Beardsley’s Reserve side took the lead on 17 minutes when a misunderstanding between Blyth goalkeeper Dan Lowson and defender Wayne Buchanan allowed Michael Richardson a simple tap-in.

Spartans almost responded immediately when a deep cross from Stephen Turnbull was headed back across goal by Dale, and any connection from John Alexander would have surely resulted in an equaliser with the striker positioned under the crossbar.

A moment of brilliance from James Tavernier doubled his side’s lead on 31 minutes when he surged forward to hit an unstoppable shot from 25 yards in to Lowson’s top corner.

Newcastle, however, once again looked vulnerable after scoring and Alexander really should have punished them when he found space in the area but fired just over from close range.

To continue the pattern of the first-half, the Magpies went straight up the other end and effectively ended the contest when Airey slid the ball past Lowson following a neat pass from Ryan Donaldson.

Airey could have added another just before the break but this time Lowson was equal to his effort.

After the interval Sammy Ameobi hit the post with a header before his teammate Greg McDermott tested Lowson with a powerful effort.

A brief rally from Blyth still couldn’t produce a goal with Brayson, Alexander and Tait all coming close before Airey got his brace on 77 minutes with an emphatic finish past Lowson to make it 4-0.

The Blyth goalkeeper had to make a number of saves in the dying minutes to keep the score down before the referee put Spartans out of their misery by blowing the final whistle.

Newcastle United Reserves: Soderberg, McDermott, Streete (Riley), Henderson, Tavernier, Richardson, Inman, McLaughlin, Ameobi (Edmudsson), Airey, Donaldson (Nzuzi). Man of the match: McLaughlin

Blyth Spartans: Lowson, Groves, Swailes, Buchanan, Cave, Dale, Tait, Hooks, Turnbull, Brayson, Alexander (O’Mahoney). Man of the match: Swailes

Attendance: 2,307.