Two late goals clinch three points for Blyth

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Smash and grab, a game of two halves, whatever football cliché you wish to use, all that will matter to Tom Wade and Blyth Spartans is that they bounced back from Saturday’s FA Cup exit in the best possible fashion.

Late goals from Danny Parker and Matthew Wade meant that a half-time deficit was overturned and Ashton United returned to Lancashire empty handed for the second season in a row.

With several players suffering from knocks, Wade and assistant manager Colin Myers chose to rotate the squad.

Parker, Ian Watson and debutant Marc Lancaster came in for Joe Kendrick, Phil Airey and Neal Hooks, although the latter two were able to take their place on the bench.

The game nearly saw its first goal within the first five minutes, although it would have been one that could labelled as a freak.

United’s Ash Young attempted a 40-yard back pass to keeper Paul Phillips, and to say he over hit the pass would be an understatement. But the Robins could breath a sigh of relief as the ball flew past the near post with Phillips unable to prevent the corner.

Minutes later Nathan Buddle tested Phillips in a more conventional way as the former Hartlepool United man struck a low effort from 25-yards that was comfortably dealt with.

It took ten minutes for the visitors to create their first chance and it fell to Kayde Coppin.

The livewire winger took advantage of an unfortunate slip by Buddle only to see a last ditch challenge from Spartans captain for the night Purewal take the sting out of his low effort.

Purewal was leading by example again minutes later as he bravely deflected a Chris Denham shot wide of Conor Grant’s far post.

With just under half an hour on the clock the visitors took the lead.

A dangerous corner from the left from Matty Burke was flicked to the far post by skipper Chris Lynch to find an unmarked Gary Gee, who was left with a simple header home from eight yards.

It was a lead the Robins deserved as they settled into the game quicker and forced Spartans into a more direct game that played into the hands of a physical visitors defence.

With five minutes to go until the break, Spartans had a golden opportunity to get back on even terms as Lancaster played a ball inside full back Ben Richardson.

That led to a race to the ball between Ian Watson and Robins keeper Phillips that the Spartans man won. Watson was forced wide but composed himself before firing wide from just inside the box with two defenders and the recovering Phillips to beat.

On the brink of the interval Damen Mullen came within a whisker of a superb goal as his 40-yard chip clipped the top of the bar.

Within five minutes of the second half both sides could have scored only to be denied by goal line clearances.

Firstly an intelligent chip from Robbie Dale released Buddle into the box and he dinked the ball over Phillips only to see Lynch clear from safety.

Then United nearly doubled their lead moments later as a Burke cross found Denham. The striker headed back across goal only to see Parker clear from the line with Grant beaten.

On the hour mark Spartans could and should have equalised as they turned up the pressure on their visitors.

Some hard work up front from Dan Maguire saw the forward release Dale on the right. He saw his cross deflect off a Robins defender and find its way to Craig Hubbard but the midfielder could only head into the hands of Phillips from eight yards.

The pressure continued to rise from Wade’s side as they improved gradually as the game carried on and with eight minutes left on the clock they got the equaliser their endeavour deserved.

The outstanding Mullen had provided a number of top class set pieces and it was from yet another that Spartans got on equal terms and handed Parker his first goal for the club.

The former Bishop Auckland player powerfully headed home Mullen’s pinpoint corner from the right.

It was game on with the clock running down and their seemed only one winner.

Buoyed by Parker’s equaliser, Spartans motored forward and forced yet another corner.

For once Mullen under hit the cross and was slightly fortunate to get a second chance as Pearson could only clear the ball back to the Spartans midfielder.

Their was nothing fortunate about his accurate far post cross that was headed home by Wade via the knee of a Robins defender.

That was Wade’s second consecutive goal for Spartans and it was enough to ensure his side extended their impressive start to the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League season to one defeat in nine and moved up to seventh position in the league.

Spartans man of the match: Damen Mullen.

Blyth Spartans: Grant, Buddle, Purewal, Parker, Lancaster, Mullen, Hubbard (Hooks 76), Wade, Watson (Airey 73), Dale, Maguire Subs not used: Cummings, Nolan, Wearmouth.

Attendance: 241.