15.10.2016

Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Singh (78)

Blyth Spartans

Reid (67), Armstrong (81)

(0) 1

(0) 2

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

465

Tom Thorley

L W D D W L W L W L

Barwell (A) 18.10.16

For a third successive Saturday, the Pitmen crash to a 2-1 defeat to one of their fellow play-off chasing rivals as Blyth Spartans follow Buxton and Rushall Olympic's lead by defeating Liam McDonald's men by the odd goal in three

Monday night's comprehensive 3-0 win over Corby Town had partially atoned for last weekend's reverse at Rushall's Dales Lane, with McDonald sticking to his same starting line-up to the one that started against Corby. Michael Williams returned to the squad to make up the substitutes, with recent signing Kyle Rowley missing out once again

Blyth started the season as many people's favourites for the Evo-Stik Premier League title after a strong showing in 2015-2016. Spartans were just below the Pitmen in the table ahead of kick-off, having played a game less ahead and arrived at Keys Park off the back of a 0-0 draw against Matlock Town in midweek. Manager Alun Armstrong made two changes to the side that had started at Matlock with Alex Nicholson and Stephen Turnbull coming in for Andrew Cartwright and Jarrett Rivers respectively

Tristian Dunkley almost got the hosts off to a flying start with the first real chance of the game in the second minute; Ashley Sammons played the ball into the striker's feet, with Dunkley turning quickly and firing over the crossbar with a snapshot

From their first corner of the game, Blyth responded through Nathan Buddle in the ninth minute, heading Stephen Turnbull's flag-kick narrowly over Dan Crane's crossbar from close-range

Crane was called upon to make a superb save a minute later, turning Matty Pattison's rising goalbound effort behind for a corner kick after the had picked up a throw-in out wide and cut inside from the right flank

The busy Dunkley - still looking a yard or so off full fitness as he continued his return to form - struck an opportunistic effort at goal on seventeen minutes, taking advantage of a mistake by Buddle to unleash a shot that was deflected wide of goal by Spartans keeper Adam McHugh

Dunkley wasted the game's best opportunity to open the scoring midway through the first half,  as Danny Glover's deflected free-kick eventually fell kindly to him at the far post. Despite the goal gaping, Dunkley got his effort all wrong and lifted his shot over the crossbar from close range

Luke Armstrong bundled an effort wide of the Hednesford goal on twenty-seven minutes, turning Alex Nicholson's cross wide under pressure from Calum Flanagan

Crane was nearly left with another red face following on from his horrendous error at Rushall, making another mistake ten minutes before half time. The experienced stopper allowed a simple ball to bounce over his head and into the path of Armstrong, who, luckily for Crane, took a heavy touch in controlling the ball and allowed the Hednesford keeper to recover

George Carline was wasteful in possession for the Pitmen just before half time, electing to shoot from a ridiculous angle rather than pass to Glover and Dunkley and only finding the hands of McHugh

Pattison's free-kick into the side netting proved to be the final action of a competitive first half, which had seen both sides cancel each other out in a good advert for step three football

The second half started with similar aplomb, with Cohen Bramall creating a tempting opening for the Pitmen two minutes after the restart; a superb run down the left from the full-back saw him pull the ball back across the face of goal, with no-one able to take advantage of a superb chance inside the six-yard box

At the other end, the prolific Bylth legend that is Robbie Dale pulled the ball back into the path of Sean Reid on forty-nine minutes, who pulled his low shot wide of Crane's goal from eighteen yards out

A cross from the ever-efficient Tom Thorley created a chance for Carline on fifty-two minutes, with the big midfield man heading over the bar at the far post as he stretched to meet Thorley's stand-up cross

Crane denied Reid an opening goal of the game on fifty-six minutes, making another fine stop low to his left to turn the ball away from a certain goal to push the striker's shot away for a Blyth corner kick

Jamie Matthews was brought on in place of the tiring Dunkley on sixty-one minutes, adding more muscle and pace to the forward line alongside the hardworking but ineffective Glover

Blyth finally took the lead in this ding-dong battle on sixty-seven minutes, as Reid finally found a way through with another long-range effort that finally found the corner of the net, beating Crane this time around to put Blyth ahead after bustling his way through a couple of challenges just outside the Hednesford penalty area

Gurjit Singh was brought on in place of Sammons two minutes later, adding more firepower to the forward line as the Pitmen looked for an immediate response to get themselves back into a game they had more than played their part in so far

This was followed five minutes later with the introduction of the tricky Joel Logan in place of Glover as the Pitmen traded in guile for pace to their forward line

Singh justified his introduction to the game with an equalising goal on seventy-eight minutes, turning one man and firing in a shot that took a slight deflection to take it past McHugh to register his seventh goal of the season

However, the Pitmen's joy was short-lived, as Blyth scored what turned out to be the winner with nine minutes remaining. Armstrong was played in by Daniel Maguire but got the ball caught up under his feet. Calum Flanagan came across to clear the ball, thumping the ball against Armstrong and watching in horror as the ball rebounded off the leg of the Blyth man and into the net

McHugh made a smart save to deny Singh as the game entered the final minutes, with the Pitmen becoming desperate to get themselves back on level terms once more

 

A succession of corner kicks from the home side on eighty-eight minutes were well dealt with by the Blyth defence, with the visitors almost catching Hednedrod on the counter-attack in the final minute of normal time through Turnbull, only for the pace of Bramall to recover and steal the ball away from the former Gateshead man

Jimmy Mutton volleyed wide for the Pitmen after a short corner involving Bramall and Thorley, before Thorley himself fired over the crossbar with the final sight at goal in added time for the frustrated hosts

A frustrating and narrow defeat leaves the Pitmen once again a clutch of points behind the leading pack and facing another quick turnaround of games this week as McDonald prepares his team for a trip to lowly Barwell on Tuesday night looking for another response to a weekend defeat

Hednesford Town: Crane, Wright, Bramall, Maye , Mutton, Flanagan, Sammons (Singh 69), Thorley ©, Glover ▆ (Logan 74), Dunkley (Matthews 61), Carline      Subs Unused: Ransome, Williams

Blyth Spartans: McHugh, Nicholson (Cartwright 82), Liddle, Wade, Buddle, Hutchinson (Richardson 86), Pattison, Turnbull, Armstrong, Reid (Maguire 73), Dale       Subs Unused: Rivers, Caines

 

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