Stocksbridge PS 1 Blyth Spartans 1

Blyth Spartans stretched an early-season unbeaten sequence to four games but they came precariously close to suffering a first defeat

Blyth Spartans stretched an early-season unbeaten sequence to four games but they came precariously close to suffering a first defeat in yesterday’s Evo-Stik League Northern Premier Division game.

After passing up a golden first-half opportunity to level the score when they failed to convert a penalty, Spartans only managed an equaliser in the first of three added-on minutes.

In early play Stockbridge’s Nathan Joynes spun on the edge of the box and curled an effort just wide of Conor Grant’s far post.

Spartans were a trifle unlucky when Robbie Dale’s goalbound effort was deflected by Will Senior for a corner, from which Arjun Purewal beat goalkeeper Ben Scott only to see his header miss the target.

Blyth were enjoying a good spell and Aaron Wearmouth released Dale. He was put under pressure by Liam Royles and was eventually denied by goalkeeper Scott.

A Lee Mason corner caused havoc in the home defence and Ben Turner cleared after Dan Parker had flicked the ball onto the post.

It was against the run of play when Stocksbridge went ahead in the 31st minute. A cross from Chris Bettney deceived Grant and dropped into the far corner of the net.

Nine minutes later Spartans had a great chance to restore parity. Dale was clipped in the area, but Joe Kendrick’s spot kick crashed off the crossbar to safety.

Early in the second half Dale made a splendid run down the right and played the ball back to Damon Mullen, whose left-foot shot was deflected over the top.

Blyth’s luck was again out when, from the resultant corner, Nathan Buddle had a header from 10 yards hurriedly cleared from the line.

There was yet another chance for Tom Wade’s side to level things up midway during the second period.

Dale and Dan Maguire played a one-two and Maguire forced another good save from Scott low to his left.

It was all Blyth, but the visitors just couldn’t force a way through.

However, three minutes of added time eventually gave Spartans the opportunity to claim a fully-deserved equaliser.

A long ball out of defence was flicked on by Dale who found Maguire in the box. He got ahead of goalkeeper Scott and Rob Nolan pounced on a loose ball to fire home from six yards. It was his first goal since joining Spartans from North Shields.

STOCKSBRIDGE PARK STEELS: Scott, Royles, Travis, Swirad, Senior, Callery, Bettney (South), Knowles, White (Akeister), Joynes, Turner (Hamshaw).

BLYTH SPARTANS: Grant, Buddle, Kendrick, Parker, Purewal, Hooks, Mason (Maguire), Mullen, Wearmouth (Nolan), Hubbard (Wade), Dale.

Referee: Mr M Dwyer.

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