Match report Vs Blyth SpartansVenue: Croft ParkDate: 07-04-18Att: 738 (away fans: 100)

07-04-18 - Report - Blyth Spartans 1 Harriers 2

Harriers show the right Spirit at Blyth

Report: Phil Lench

The Harriers made their longest ever journey North to take on Blyth Spartans in this important National North league game and thankfully came away with all three points after taking a 2-0 lead during the second half. Our goals came from Ryan Croasdale and Manny Sonupè with Blyth grabbing a late goal in the eighty seventh through Sean Reid leaving the Reds holding on at the end.

An early set back for the team was the loss of Dan Bradley to a knee injury meaning that he wouldn’t be able to extend his five game scoring run. Andre Brown came on in his place while, with Lee Vaughan out for three weeks due to a suspension, James Pearson moved into his full back role. The biggest news though was the return from injury for James O’Connor who moved into the berth vacated by Pearson while another injury hit player, Liam Truslove, was on the bench after being out of action for months.

The first half in a rain swept Blyth was a half to forget for the travelling fans with very few sights on goal for us. We started well enough when Elton N’Gwatala saw a shot blocked early on after a series of corners but it was the home side that had the stronger chances of a goal Nathan Buddle after he headed over from a free kick while a few minutes later Dale Hopson also sent one over the bar from twenty yards from goal.

More chances came the Spartans way and were also missed. Adam Wrightson fired into the side netting, Reid fired over the bar and the Hopson earned a corner after his shot was deflected away from its target.

It had turned out to be a poor half for the Harriers but it was nothing that a good team talk in the dressing room couldn’t cure.   

HT: 0 – 0

We re-started the game with a good chance for Andre Brown to open the scoring but he slipped on the sodden turf just as he was about to shoot and the loose ball was tidied up by the Blyth defence. Within minutes we had to make an enforced change with Emmanuel Sonupè coming on for James McQuilkin after he had picked up a first half injury.

The break hadn’t had a negative effect on Blyth and they came close to opening the scoring through Damen Mullen when his on target shot curved just wide of Brandon Halls upright. Robbie Dale and Wrightson had chances too with the formers shot going wide and the latters well held by Hall.

With all that Blyth pressure it was only to be expected that they would open the scoring very soon but thankfully, for us, they didn’t. In fact it was us that went and scored against the run of play. Joe Ironside had chased a through ball down and then knocked it across for Ryan Croasdale to ponce on the ball and slide it home.

Wrightson should have pulled his side level immediately afterwards when Hall parried his first shot away back to him but he then put the return shot over the bar. He was to rue that miss soon after when the Harriers went two to the good.

In the kind of move that we have come to love from Manny Sonupè he chased a ball down from the halfway line and, putting his head down, set off for goal to then dink the ball over the head of the Spartans keeper, Peter Jameson, to give us a 2-0 lead.

We seemed happy then to control the remainder of the game with the dreaded ‘game management’ tactic that has backfired for us far too many times already the season and again it almost did. We sat back and, apart from a further chance for Sonupè, of course the opposition scored. A poorly defended corner saw the ball fall kindly for Reid and he had the simple task of prodding the ball into the net. Thankfully it was only a consolation.

In the four minutes added on Wrightson got past Sam Austin to give him a sight of goal but he then put it over the bar just as the whistle went for the end of the game.

We now have an even more important game on Tuesday when fast improving Stockport County come to Aggborough for a definite six pointer that could see us widen the gap between the two clubs if we win or see us overtaken if we lose. We have to win.

FT: 1 – 2

Goal for Blyth Spartans: Reid 87

Goals for Harriers: Croasdale 64, Sonupè 71

Talk about the game here and phone the Harriers Hotline on 01905 577 777 after the game too

Latest table and stats here

Blyth Spartans Goals Subs Time Cards
Rivers   80  
Hopson   80  
Langstaff   80  
Laidler   80  
Harriers Goals Subs Time Cards
McQuilkin   49  
N’Gwatala   72  
A Brown      
N Vaughan        
Sonupè 49  
Waring   72  
Mr Thomas Parsons