STEVE Cuggy experienced his first win as Blyth Spartans manager with a comfortable victory over Bishop’s Stortford at Croft Park on Saturday.
Following an opening day draw at Histon and a home defeat to Halifax Town on Tuesday night, it was important for Blyth to take maximum points against a side that had lost their first two games of the season.
For the third game in a row Blyth conceded first, with Michael Bakare putting the visitors ahead.
Chris Emms levelled with a free kick before Neal Hooks and Liam Atkin scored either side of the break to put the result beyond any doubt.
Blyth lacked conviction in the opening stages and it was indecision that resulted in them falling behind on 14 minutes as Wayne Buchanan and Dave Coulson left the ball for each other only for Bakare to capitalise and fire past debutant goalkeeper Matty Crook from close range.
This proved to be a wake-up call for the hosts as within five minutes they were level.
After being fouled by Jack Jeffries, Emms took the free kick himself and fired emphatically past Joe Wright from 30 yards for his first goal in Spartans colours.
The goal prompted a flurry of chances which finally brought some life in to what had been a dreary affair.
Dan Groves almost got on the end of a Coulson knock down before Atkin headed over from a Hooks corner.
With Wright in no man’s land, Glen Taylor attempted to guide a header – from a cross by Emms – over the stranded goalkeeper but the ball found its way the wrong side of the upright.
On the balance of play both sides would have been satisfied with 1-1 at the break, but Neal Hooks had other ideas as he picked the ball up in the centre circle to surge past Jeffries and Mo Habu and hit a diagonal shot in to the far corner.
Blyth extended their lead on 46 minutes. Hooks this time turned provider as his free kick was glanced home by Atkin from 12 yards.
Crook then pulled off a fine save to deny Dean Rance, which Bishop’s Stortford manager Ian Walker – a former Tottenham Hotspur No. 1 – would have been proud of himself.
At the other end Graeme Armstrong guided a Dylan Purvis cross towards goal only for Wright to deny Blyth’s captain with a terrific save.
A swerving free kick from Stortford’s Scott Shulton called Crook in to action, again with the goalkeeper tipping the effort on to the crossbar before clearing to safety.
Blyth’s first win of the season was a fitting tribute to loyal Spartans supporter Peter Cotterill who sadly passed away on Wednesday.
Blyth Spartans: Crook, Groves, Cave, Atkin (Mason), Coulson, Buchanan, Purvis, Hooks, Armstrong, Emms (Pearson), Taylor (Slaughter).