Match report Vs Blyth SpartansVenue: AggboroughDate: 23-09-17Att: 1524 (away fans: 71)

23-09-17 - Report - Harriers 5 Blyth Spartans 4

Harriers lay siege to the Spartans and come out on top

Report: Phil Lench

A high scoring game ended with the Harriers victorious against the Spartans even though at times we looked to be in grave danger of giving it all away. With Blyth going into the break and a 3-2 lead it was strange to think that we had originally taken the lead through Andre Brown as early as the third minute and then went on to dominate the following ten minutes until Blyth equalised through Dale Hopson.

They then took the lead two minutes later amongst looks of dis-belief from the Harriers fans. Two more goals followed, one for each side but after the break we took control of the game again and went into a 5-3 lead that was never going to be enough against one of the most attack minded teams ever seen at Aggborough. By the end we were struggling to hold on to the three points when the Spartans scored a fourth goal six minutes from time to give them hope but thankfully we held on.

Before the game commenced we saw Ryan Croasdale return to the side after a long absence for personal reasons and there was also a return to the side for James McQuilkin after he missed the Cup game at Deeping Rangers last week. On the bench there was another returnee too with Dan Bradley back following a hamstring injury.

As said it was the Harriers that took an early lead through Andre Brown in the third minute. We had already threatened the Blyth goal without scaring them too much but then Joe Ironside got away down the right and pulled the ball back for Andre Brown. A quick step forward and he had found the back of the net. 

We were about to run riot, or so we thought, when Ironside connected with a cross from Manny Sonupè but pushed the ball against their keeper, Pete Jameson. Sonupè also crossed in for Brown but it was too strong for him to reach. Sonupè again was our danger man and this time he fired in from the corner of the box but his shot took a deflection and the keeper had to be alert to push it away for a corner. Then against the run of play Blyth pulled a goal back.

A right old mix up between Fraser Horsfall and new boy James Pearson allowed the quick Blyth striker Dan Maguire to get round them and rob them of the ball. With no one in his way apart from Brandon Hall he had the simple task of playing in Dale Hopson to run onto it and put the ball away after side stepping Halls advance on him.

Two minutes later and the pitch could have opened up and swallowed us whole when Blyth then somehow took the lead. More poor defending from the Harriers back line gave David McTiernan two bites of the cherry when his first shot from a corner was headed away but not cleared properly. Faffing around in the box playing head tennis is no way to clear your lines and when it fell for McTiernan again he made no mistake this time and fired the ball home through our hapless defence. 

The goalscoring was far from over though when five minutes later it was our turn to draw level. We had been awarded a corner and McQuilkin played it to the edge of the area where Pearson was on hand to loop a great header over the keeper and sneak in just under the bar for his first ever goal. Later on he was to score his second ever goal too.

At last after waiting all season for goals the fans were at last seeing us doing so and really it could have been more if we had taken half of the chances offered us so far. We also began to see how poor our defence could be when only a minute after Pearsons first goal for us we then handed Blyth the lead once more.

Adam Wrightson broke free down the right and, with defenders backing off, he delivered the ball into the area where more defenders stood off to allow McTiernan space to head the ball home once more. Blyth finished the half on their uppers as they came close to extending their lead further through two chances that they only just failed to capitalise on and we went into the break feeling as if we had been let off the hook. 

HT: 2 – 3

The second period started with a personnel change for the Reds. Dan Bradley came on for James McQuilkin for his first game in weeks and twice he could have helped to get us back in the game within the first few minutes of the half. On both occasions his cross into the area was spurned by, first, Andre Brown and then a few minutes later by Joe Ironside who fired his easy chance straight at the keeper.

We did draw level with a touch of fortune though when Nathan Buddle was judged to have bought Sonupè down in the area as a tried to clear the ball away. It didn’t look like a clear penalty but who are we to argue the fact. Up stepped Sonupè to claim the spot kick and then proceeded to put it away with aplomb giving Jameson no chance of stopping it going in.

Ne now needed to build on that and so we did. A minute later and we had at last regained the lead once more when Pearson grabbed the second goal of his career with another header, this time from closer in, following a probing cross in from Sonupè that found the head of the former Leicester City man who made no mistake with a bullet of an header from a few yards out.

A substitution saw Andre Wright come on in place of Andre Brown soon after and he played in Bradley with a fine ball out wide that Bradley took on into the area but then dithered a little and shot straight at the keeper. It wasn’t just the once though because a few minutes later Bradley repeated the exercise but maybe being a little rusty he could be excused.

Our fifth, and final, goal arrived soon after and it came from another corner. The ball was played into the centre of the area where Tyrone Williams sent the ball goalwards for Wright to lift the ball over Jameson and off the underside of the bar.

We thought that would be enough and that it would have broken the spirit of our visitors but nothing was further from the truth. They knew they were on a hiding to nothing by pressing our dodgy defence into errors and also with a little play acting. Twice their forwards threw themselves to the ground just outside the area and twice the referee fell for it. If they had got any sense they would have done it in the area and almost certainly would have been awarded penalties.

It was thanks to Brandon Hall who was rescuing our game with some good stops that should have been nipped in the bud earlier. He made one instinctive save with six minutes remaining when Danny Maguire just waltzed into the area under no pressure from the Harriers defenders. Our charmed life wasn’t going to last though and with their next foray forward they pulled another goal back.

This time it was Dale Hopson who completed his brace. Lewis Horner sent the ball into the area but it got cleared it away to the edge of the area where Hopson was perfectly placed to return the ball, with interest, into the back of the net.

Thankfully we managed to hold on, God knows how? for the points but only after Ryan Croasdale had been wrongly accused of a foul that gave them another free kick on the edge of the area and Joel Taylor booked for a nothing challenge that left the Blyth man diving to the ground theatrically.

It’s great winning games but I’d rather win them comfortably and not like the lottery we saw out there today. We just need to sort out our defensive errors out now that we know we can actually score goals.

FT: 5 – 4

Goals for Harriers: A Brown 3, Pearson 23, 58, Sonupè (pen) 57, Wright 77

Goals for Blyth Spartans: Hopson 16, 84, McTiernan 18, 24

The Harriers Online MotM is: James Pearson

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

Latest table and stats here

Harriers Goals Subs Time Cards
McQuilkin    46  
A Brown    66  
Wright   66  
Bradley    46  
Blyth Spartans Goals Subs Time Cards
Wrightson    73  
Hopson  86  
Horner   73  
Lazzari    86  
Mr Thomas Parsons