Blyth Spartans vs AFC Fylde

Sat 1st March 2014
Score: 1 - 1

Match Report

The Coasters came away from Blyth with their unbeaten run intact after a late Richie Allen penalty salvaged a point from a game they had controlled in the first half. Both teams entered the game on good runs and in an entertaining game both probably came away feeling they could and should have won.

Manager Dave Challinor made one change from the previous week bringing in Dave Hankin and moving Luke Denson to Centre Half to combat the speed of the Blyth Spartans dangerous frontman Danny Maguire and the move paid off as the Coasters bossed the early part of the game. A Danny Lloyd cross on seven minutes almost brought the opener as it evaded everyone and forced the Spartans goalkeeper, Conor Grant, into an instinctive save on his line. Soon after Matt Blinkhorn looked to have worked an opening by was denied by a last ditch challenge by Nathan Buddle. It was thirteen minutes into the game before the Spartans could muster their first shot as Maguire fired straight at Hinchliffe in the Coasters goal. On seventeen minutes a good Fylde move saw Danny Lloyd get into an excellent shooting opportunity from twelve yards out but Grant made a top class save getting a strong hand on the shot and as the ball looped toward the goal Blyth cleared off the line. The Coasters could consider themselves fortunate to have a full complement on twenty one minutes as a reckless challenge from Brad Barnes on Aaron Wearmouth brought the referee’s notebook out and Barnes acknowledged later that on a different day the colour of the card could have been red, this brought the vocal Spartans crowd into the game and buoyed the home side on. Maguire was proving to be a thorn in the Coasters side as he first won a corner and then almost broke to the by-line being denied by a good challenge from Fylde captain Matty Hughes. From the resulting corner Hughes was injured as he stretched to block a shot, which he took full in the face, and tweaked a hamstring leading to him being replaced by Andy Russell on thirty minutes. Shortly afterward three Coasters defenders were drawn to the same lobbed ball and as Matthew Wade got a flick onto the ball Maguire found himself one on one with Hinchliffe and coolly slotted home to give the Spartans the lead on thirty four minutes. The game was fairly even for the next ten minutes but as the board was put up for added time at the end of the first half a lovely Sean Cooke cross found substitute Russell all alone eight yards out but he could not get his header on target and the Coasters went into the dressing room one down.

It was that man Maguire who had the first chance of the second half but he could not keep control of his shot and just a minute later he again found himself one on one with Hinchliffe but this time the big keeper came out on top saving with his legs. At this point the home side looked to be on top but a mistake by first Cummings and then Hooks presented Blinkhorn with a chance from a tight angle, his shot was well placed but went agonisingly wide of the post. Worst was to come for the Coasters as on sixty three minutes they lost their second centre half of the game to injury as Luke Denson turned an ankle challenging for a header and Challinor was forced into a reshuffle moving Hankin into the middle and bringing on Michael Barnes to play in an unfamiliar right back role. Minutes later Rob Dale beat the offside trap and his cross looked to be on a plate for Maguire but the diminutive striker could not quite stretch for a tap in. In an attempt to chase the game Challinor brought on youngster Ryan Charnley for Joe Booth with fifteen minutes to play but it was the Spartans who continued to boss the game and they had three good chances in two minutes. Firstly Maguire met a Wade cross but could only head directly at Hinchliffe, next substitute Paul Robinson hit a long range effort which moved in the air and was excellently saved by HInchliffe and from the resulting corner Dale found himself in space but hit his shot well wide from a good position. Then the game turned on a controversial decision by referee Mulraine, Lloyd drove toward the edge of the box and was impeded by two Spartans defenders and he ended up on the floor inside the penalty area. Referee Mulraine did not hesitate and immediately gave a penalty, the Spartans players clearly feeling that the foul had taken place outside the area. Richie Allen calmly stepped forward and sent Grant the wrong way and the Coasters were level in a game they did not seem destined to get anything out of. The goal seemed to create nervousness in the Spartans and it was Fylde who dominated the remainder of the game as Blinkhorn and Lloyd both forced Grant into good saves however a winner was not to be and the game ended one apiece.

After the game Dave Challinor said that whilst the penalty decision had seemed controversial had the Coasters come away with nothing it would have been an injustice having been excellent first half just lacking an end product. He admitted that as the second half wore on he had wondered if it was going to be one of those days, and that the penalty could have gone either way and the decision had been a difficult one to call. He said that he was pleased with the attitude shown by the players overall and that he had taken the chance having six attacking players on the pitch at the end possibly leaving the team open to counter attack but the gamble had paid off. With results going the way of the Coasters a point from the long trip was not a big dent in the promotion push and the Coasters now move on to face Rushall Olympic next Saturday at Kellamergh Park.