A performance to be proud of despite defeat

Midfield action from Morpeth Town v Blyth Spartans on Monday evening. Picture by Keith Robertson.
Midfield action from Morpeth Town v Blyth Spartans on Monday evening. Picture by Keith Robertson.
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Morpeth Town 0 Blyth Spartans 2 Techflow Group Northumberland Senior Cup Final

Morpeth put in a decent performance, but they went down to a narrow defeat against Evostick Northern Premier League Blyth Spartans on Monday evening.

Blyth’s victory came courtesy of a goal in each half. Michael Richardson netted in the second minute and Dan Maguire expertly killed off the brave Northern League outfit with his 31st goal of the season five minutes from time.

The opening goal came in the second minute. Robbie Dale received the ball inside his own half and advanced up the left, linking up with Neal Hooks, who played in Richardson. He slipped the ball under the advancing Karl Dryden in the Morpeth goal.

A controversial moment of the game came in the eighth minute as Spartans could have had a penalty. Dan Hawkins fired a through-ball to release Maguire and although the linesman on the Milburn Stand side raised his flag when the striker was put under pressure by Chris Jewels, referee Brown did not blow his whistle.

Morpeth started to get a grip in midfield as the neat passing of Shaun Henderson, Ben Sayer and Jordan Fry started to cause problems for the Blyth defence.

On 20 minutes, the Highway Men were awarded a free-kick 25 yards from goal. Keith Graydon fired the ball round the wall and beat Harrison in the Blyth goal, but the ball cannoned back into play via the far post.

As the half came to a close, the woodwork was to deny Blyth twice. First, a Damen Mullen drive from the edge of the area was tipped onto the near post by Dryden.

Moments later, the keeper was at it again. He was thankful for the same upright as he parried an effort by Maguire onto the same post.

Town created the first chance of the second half as Fry played Sean Taylor in on goal, but the alert goalkeeping of Thomson allowed the Spartans keeper to block the winger’s close-range effort.

The woodwork denied Spartans for a third time just before the hour-mark as Dale advanced forward and released Maguire into the left-hand side of the area. The striker calmly picked out Hooks and his looping 12-yard effort was tipped on to the bar by Dryden.

Morpeth brought on Steven Anderson for Michael Chilton and they hit the side-netting as they pressed for an equaliser. But with time running out and Morpeth committed to attack, Maguire latched onto a poor backpass by Jewels and rounded Dryden before scoring to give the Spartans a 2-0 victory.

At the end of the game, Town’s players applauded the hundreds of fans who came along to St James’ Park to watch the game.

Morpeth Town line-up: Dryden, Hiftle, Jewels, Hall, Henderson, Sayer (Bell), Graydon (Forster), Fry, Taggert, Chilton (Anderson 73), Taylor. Techflow Group man-of-the-match: Karl Dryden.