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Blyth 2-1 Skem United

United denied a deserved draw

Skelmersdale United captain Tom Hardwick appealing to the referee for a free kick after against Rushall Olympic

There are times in football when no matter what you do things won’t go your way.

Skelmersdale suffered that experience on Saturday on a windy day on the North Sea coast.

Having overcome an early scare when Matthew Wade just failed to connect with a vicious Robbie Dale free-kick, Skelmersdale did look pretty settled despite the strengthening gale blowing corner flag to corner flag.

Blyth with the wind behind them had more of the play but they weren’t creating too much in front of goal.

The biggest problem being an 18 yard shot from Craig Hubbard that was smothered by Zac Hibbert.

When Blyth took the lead in the 32nd minute there was more than an element of luck about how Dale was presented with his opportunity.

Dan Maguire’s corner from the left didn’t just hold up in the wind, it changed from being a highball to the far post and turned into stationary ball in the centre of the goal two yards out. To be fair to Dale, the big six foot six player had to cleverly turn 180 degrees before scoring slamming the ball home, but when the ball is not running it is not running.

Skelmersdale started to do better on the offensive, although Blyth did have one counter attack that was ended by a fine dive to his right by Hibbert that saw Dale’s shot palmed away.

In the 42nd minute Skelmersdale equalised. The goal was the culmination of a superb passing build-up, the ball eventually being played down the left to Dean Astbury, who held off the right-back and squared the ball back for Mark Jackson, his low drive going into the net from around the penalty spot.

Seconds after the restart Astbury was denied by a superb tackle from Danny Parker, however in the 48th minute Blyth struck again and the wind certainly warranted an assist in the host’s stats as a result.

Aaron Wearmouth’s shot was going well over the crossbar before the wind took it and blew it onto the crossbar, the ball dropped to Maguire who scored at the second attempt.

Even the local radio commentary team at the back of the stand were overheard describing the goal as “bizarre.”

Tommy Lawson made three changes in the 62nd minute, he had to really as the wind was now making it impossible to play football in the conventional way and Skelmersdale were the team that needed to create something.

In the latter stages Skelmersdale took over and it was only the Spartans’ fighting spirit that stopped Skelmersdale grabbing a point.

Astbury had a goalbound shot bravely blocked, Tom Hardwick having an effort cleared off the line from the corner.

Skelmersdale continued to press. Wade made a tremendous block from a goalbound Ashley Dunn effort, then in the last moment’s home goalkeeper Connor Grant made a great double save from first Connor McCarthy, then Hardwick. The equaliser just wouldn't go in.

Blyth have lost only once in ten games and in line with their long tradition are a big strong powerful team, the conditions suited them more than Skelmersdale. Tommy Lawson must be left scratching his head; his team’s late dominance deserved at least a draw.

There were a couple of plus points though, especially the performance of young six foot defender Jonah O’Reilly, when he came on as substitute he didn’t look out of place at all, he is developing into a good player.

BLYTH SPARTANS: Grant, Mullen, Watson, Parker, Buddle, Hooks, Hubbard, Wade, Dale, Maguire, Wearmouth (Robinson, 75) Subs (not used) Cummings, Kendrick, Horner, Purewal

SKELMERSDALE UNITED: Hibbert, Field (O’Reilly, 62), Ince, Hardwick ©, McIntosh, Dunn, Carden (Miller, 62), Wylie, Astbury, McCarthy, Jackson (Hernandez, 62) Subs (not used) Slater, Strickland

Referee: Paul Dicicco (Teeside)

Attendance: 329

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