Blyth Spartans v Stalybridge Celtic
FA Trophy - 26th November 2011
Match Report by Laura Dodds.
Blyth went 1-0 down after only six minutes when Stephen Brogan fired past goalkeeper David Knight, but replied four minutes later after some good work by Jamie Mole in the box set up a tap in for Spartans captain Graeme Armstrong for his second goal in three games. Stalybridge were dominating the first half and came close to regaining the lead numerous times through Connor Jennings and Arthur Gnahoua but the teams went in at half time with the score line 1-1. Tuesday nights defeat at the hands of Newcastle Benfield was still scarred into Blyth supporter’s minds; however they would have been quite satisfied with the first 45 minutes, even though chances were few and far between.
The addition of Richie Slaughter and Robert Briggs at half time for Blyth suggested they were looking for more stability but went 2-1 down five minutes after the restart after some neat passing from Celtic which ended with Connor Jennings tucking the ball away from 8 yards. It then became a similar scene for Spartans as straight from the kick off, Graeme Armstrong tried to play a ball back to Phil Cave which was intercepted and crossed in for Phil Marsh to put Stalybridge 3-1 up and send them into the 1st round. It was once again one way traffic and Celtic could have went further ahead when substitute Craig Hobson's shot rattled the post and Connor Jennings forced Knight into a great save on 86 minutes.
In the end Stalybridge ran out comfortable winners against a Blyth side that haven't won a game since their victory over Droylsden in the FA Cup back at the start of November. The defeat now leaves them with only Conference North status to play for, which may not be a bad thing for the Spartans who are six points a drift at the foot of the table and face a crucial game against Bishop's Stortford on Saturday.