Groundhopper: Mickleover Sports (Malcolm Stephenson)

Mickleover Sports 0 Blyth Spartans 2 (1/3/2016)


Malcolm ‘no mates’ decided to drive down on his Jack Jones for this game tonight.

I have been to this ground before and that was only last season. There is a blog also on this site regarding that FA cup day for Blyth in their 3rd round qualifying game. I will not write  again about the ground and the clubs history as it is on that one of you want to read it.

Tonight’s match was very much a contrast to last seasons game. Last season was on a Saturday,  on a bright October afternoon with several hundred Blyth fans travelling down to Derbyshire. Tonight was a cold and dark Tuesday night with only a handful (approx 30) Spartans fans there to support the lads.

Blyth are still at the top of the league while Mickleover, despite promotion last season are finding life in the Premier difficult. They are currently in a relegation spot. The game kicked off with Blyth having most of the game in the early stages. While on the  attack a Mickleover defender threw himself in a two footed tackle which would have made former Blyth player Tony Skedd proud. Nothing was said and the referee let play go on.

It was good to see Dan Maguire in the starting line up after a lengthy spell away due to injury. With the likes of Hooks, Wearmouth, Reid and Cartwright on the bench it is really re-assuring to have strength in depth when required.

Despite Blyth dominating the match no goals were forth coming. Then disaster struck on the half hour. Nathan Buddle pulled down a defender and the referee sent him straight off with a red card shown immediately. A really tough decision in my opinion but I am biased. Nathan is a quality player and not the sort to make rash challenges. But the referee was adamant and that was it- we were done to 10 men. Then the unthinkable happened. Seconds after Mickleover took the free kick near the edge of the Blyth box the ball was cleared up field. Within seconds Michael Richardson latched on to the ball and perfectly slotted home a goal to go one up.

Although one up Blyth were down to 10 men and it was still going to be a tough task. Mickleover got more into the game second half and I had nagging thoughts that they might just get that equalizer. The Blyth defence was working hard tonight but kept them at bay from pulling that goal back. Then just to seal it all up Arraon Wearmouth scored near the end of the game with another well slotted goal to make it 2-0 and gave us supporters a sigh of relief.

There was a few fans actually down from Blyth tonight. However the majority of travelling support tonight were exiles living down that way or the usual other travelling Blyth fans from Sheffield, Coventry, Wakefield, myself from Newcastle and of course the Cannock Spartans. Apologies if I have missed anyone.

The Cannock lads are a credit to the club as they get behind the team no matter what. Earlier this season we played down at Stourbridge and got beat 3-0. Those Blyth ‘Cannock’ supporters never stopped singing from start to finish. Unconditional positive regard for the players even in the face of adversity.

At the end of the match we applauded the team and they all came across to us behind the goal to shake everyone’s hand. A fine gesture which costs nothing but means a lot to us fans. With a 13 point cushion to defend its still going to be a great climax to the end of the season which is fast approaching.

The only sour note on the night was realising that Darlington had gained three late points and are still hot on our tails.

The journey back was a nightmare with the A1(M1) blocked at Leeds, Scotch Corner and Gateshead. Due to these diversions it was after 2am when I got home. Thankfully being semi retired now has its advantages as  I did not have to get up for work the next day. My heart went out to those at the game who did get home late and were up at the crack of dawn the next day. That’s dedication and commitment by all concerned in this wonderful world of non- league football.


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