Blyth Spartans convincingly defeated fellow promotion hopefuls Workington on Easter Monday scoring three memorable goals in the process.
Buoyed by a substantial holiday crowd, Spartans were positive from the off.
Robbie Dale’s long pass enabled Daniel Maguire to advance menacingly towards Workington keeper Jonny Jamieson who was only narrowly able to collect in front of the Blyth striker. Within minutes Maguire was able to break through on goal following a defensive error but Workington’s Sam Smith was on hand to clear the danger with a well-timed tackle.
At the other end Gareth Arnison was poised to strike but was closed down by Aaron Wearmouth.
A neat move involving Dale and Wearmouth resulted in a corner from which the Spartans were to score. Damen Mullen’s deep 11th minute cross was met by a towering header from defender Nathan Buddle; the ball unerringly finding the top corner of the Workington goal.
The Reds gave Blyth a fright after the Spartans lost the ball in midfield and it needed some desperate defending to stop the advance of Scott Allison. After 19 minutes Blyth keeper Adam McHugh was called on to produce a superb finger-tip save to keep out a stinging drive from Arnison.
Blyth reacted immediately with Maguire coming close to extending his side’s lead but, after latching on to a brilliant through ball from Dale, he spooned his chip high of the goal. Jamieson then saved expertly from Wilson Kneeshaw as, once again, Blyth were able to slice their way through the opposition defence.
Blyth’s pressure paid off with a second goal after 29 minutes. And what a goal it was. Spartans’ captain Dale, only marginally in the opposition half, flicked up the ball, turned sharply on his standing foot and volleyed a powerful, wickedly dipping, shot over the head of a bewildered Jamieson and in to the net.
Only a minute later Maguire slotted the ball to Wearmouth but the winger was taken by surprise and the danger was cleared. Goalkeeper McHugh was needed to protect his side’s advantage having to dive smartly at Conor Tinnion’s feet as the Workington player fashioned an opening in the penalty box.
A minute after the break McHugh was called into action again, cleanly collecting a dangerous cross from Gari Rowntree, but it was Blyth who ten minutes later scored their third goal of the game.
Dale stepped up to take a centrally-placed free kick 22 yards from goal. His firmly struck shot somehow sneaked round the defensive wall and just past Jamieson’s flailing left hand.
Blyth did not slacken in their efforts and the busy Kneeshaw came close to scoring after a dazzling Wearmouth run and cross. Nevertheless the visitors didn’t give up the ghost. Allison shot wide following a mix up in the Blyth defence before Joseph McGee found Smith in space but once again McHugh was quick to react and snuff out the danger.
The game became a midfield battle with both sides losing something of their poise and precision.
After 74 minutes the Cumbrians looked likely to score but McHugh did well to block Allison’s effort and the ball was cleared to safety. Mathew Tymon then sliced wide for the visitors before the final whistle blew.
Overall it was very convincing performance by the Spartans who, following the postponement of rivals Darlington 1883’s game, find themselves four points clear of them although having played three games more.
Blyth Spartans: A McHugh, A Cartwright, J Watson, N Buddle, D Morse, N Hooks, A Wearmouth (A Nicholson 65), D Mullen, D Maguire (M Richardson 87), W Kneeshaw (S Reid 78), R Dale. Subs not used: P Robinson, D Parker.