Wayne leads from the front in Spartans win

Ryan McGorrigan looks for a way past Matlock's Oscar Radford. Picture by Bill Broadley.
Ryan McGorrigan looks for a way past Matlock's Oscar Radford. Picture by Bill Broadley.

ON a day when everyone connected with Blyth Spartans paid tribute to former captain Arthur Sowden, it seemed only fitting current skipper played his part in the 2-1 win over Matlock Town.

And Wayne Buchanan left a lasting impression as he got the opening goal and put in a man of the match performance.

The captain’s second goal of the season set his side on their way to their first win since mid-November as Paddy Atkinson’s side put in a real team performance to complete a league double over the Gladiators.

Following the expiry of their loans from Newcastle United, both Marcus Maddison and Michael Riley were unavailable, so Atkinson recalled Joe Kendrick to his line-up and once again Ryan McGorrigan was given the nod to partner Andy Jennings in the Spartans front line.

It took until the quarter hour mark for Spartans to create their first chance, and it fell to Robbie Dale as the winger latched on to a Neal Hooks pass inside full back Radford and fired into the side netting from just inside the box.

As the game settled down the Gladiators squandered a golden chance when winger Joe Leesley was sent in one on one with Grant but couldn’t find a way past the Spartans number one whose touch sent the ball over the bar.

It was a miss that Spartans punished in the best possible manner.

Corner kicks have not been the greatest provider of goals for Spartans this season, only scoring from one, but a quick one-two did the trick this time as Kendrick and Hooks combined from a quickly taken corner that saw the former send over an inch perfect cross that found Buchanan who headed home powerfully from ten yards out.

Buchanan celebrated with his Spartans team-mates in front of the Port of Blyth Stand with the famous rocking baby celebration dedicated to his new baby girl Faith, who was attending her first Spartans game.

Damen Mullen went close to doubling the advantage before the break as his effort hit the post from 12 yards out. The ball rebounded into the hands of Town defender Yates but referee Campbell waved away vociferous appeals for a penalty from all inside Croft Park.

After McGorrigan went close early in the second half, the visitors responded and were level as Harcourt broke into the right hand side of the Spartans area and lashed the ball across the six-yard box where it deflected off Richie Slaughter and into the roof of the net.

After a scrappy period of play, Spartans retook the lead on 66 minutes.

Hooks won a ball in midfield and found Dale on the right hand side. He was given time to advance into the Gladiators area and duly punished them as his wicked cross was deflected into his own net by long serving Town centre back James Lukic.

Some resolute defending backed up by a hardworking midfield meant that chances were limited for the visitors but Conor Grant did produce one superb save to keep his side ahead as he threw himself across goal to tip a Phil Roe effort from 25 yards around his left hand post.

Spartans had chances to kill of the game with substitute Phil Airey coming close on two occasions in injury time.

Blyth Spartans: Grant, Utterson, Slaughter, Buchanan, Kendrick (Mason 90 mins), Mullen, Vipond, Hooks, Jennings (Stanger 68 mins), McGorrigan (Airey 82 mins), Dale. Subs not used: Donnelly, Maguire.

Attendance: 311.

On Saturday, Spartans are away to mid-table Chorley.