Heaton Stannington 0-6 Blyth Spartans
Northumberland Senior Cup Semi Final,
Wednesday 16 March 2016
A crowd of 515, possibly the largest at a competitive match at Grounsell Park since the early 1950s, saw the Stan take on Blyth Spartans of the Northern League and FA cup fame for the first time at home. After much anticipation in the build up to the match there was no disappointment with regards to atmosphere at this cup tie as the fans occupied every spare piece of ground around the pitch. There were 4 changes to the Stan team from Saturday including a return from retirement for Gary Dixon.
Blyth started on the attack and hit the side netting in 8 minutes from a corner although the Stan were up for the challenge. 2 minutes later and the Blyth right winger shot but Smith dived to put the ball out for a corner which was then put over the bar. The 1st Stan attack by Rowntree in 13 minutes was ruled off side. There were 2 more Blyth attacks followed by a Stan counterattack which was initially blocked but the ball was won back although Rowntree’s shot was blocked. 2 more attacks by the visitors were followed by a foul on Imray just outside the box on the right. Dixon’s resulting free kick was caught by the keeper. 3 minutes later, following on from another Stan free kick, Rowntree ran into the box with the ball but was blocked for a corner which was cleared. In the 22rd minute, a Blyth shot after a short corner was caught by Smith. A Blyth attack was then blocked for a corner from which Dixon blocked a shot. In the 24th minute the visitor’s Reid, on the left, sent a ball into the ball which unintentionally went through the crowded box and into the right hand corner of the net to give Blyth an undeserved lead. In 27 minutes Ray replaced McCabe and a Stan attack saw Rowntree cross to Imray on the edge of the box but his pass towards goal was missed by Hayton. The next 5 minutes saw sustained Blyth pressure which paid off in the 32nd minute when a ball from a corner on the left was put into the crowded Stan box and headed in by Morse from the right hand side. 2 minutes later Richardson noticed Smith off his line and from just inside the Stan half he chipped the ball into the net to make it 3-0. In 36 minutes a Stan free kick was cleared and 2 minutes later a ball into Bailey in a good position just inside the box should have resulted in him scoring but instead he blasted the ball over the bar. The Stan were again pressurising but it was Blyth who shot over in 41 minutes and then wide in injury time.
The visitors started the 2nd half on the attack and within 2 minutes a shot from the left by Nicholson had beaten Smith to make it 4-0. Blyth kept attacking and shot wide in 52 minutes. It was mainly one way traffic until Hayton had a shot in 58 minutes but the Blyth keeper got down to save it. A Stan counter attack in 62 minutes saw Rowntree get to the edge of the box but, under pressure, he could not hold onto the ball. Blyth had 3 more attacks until a Stan corner was headed clear in 70 minutes. A Blyth long ball was then easily caught by Smith. It was back to mainly pressure from the visitors for the last 13 minutes as their higher league status and fitness began to pay off. In the 84th minute, Davison miss hit the ball when clearing which allowed Maguire to get to the ball and shoot past Smith to make it 5-0. 2 minutes later and a shot from the left on the edge of the box was blasted past Smith by Nicholson. There were more Blyth attacks although the match ended just after Hayton was ruled offside.
The road to the St James’ Park final is now closed but the players and the club can hold their heads high given that their opponents were from 3 divisions above and they can now focus on advancing up the league table starting with 5 home games in 2 weeks.
Stan Team: Smith; McCabe (Ray); Stoddart; Davison; Wear; Fulcher; Imray (Telford); Bailey; Rowntree; Hayton; Dixon (Jones). Subs not used: Grieveson; Scott. No cards issued.