Rovers hit for six as champions elect Blyth show their pedigree
Spittal Rovers 1-6 Blyth Spartans Res
Champions elect Blyth bagged another three points towards inevitable promotion, but despite them clearly being the best side in the league, they got themselves comfortable off the back of some extremely debatable refereeing decisions which saw the stuffing severely knocked out of Rovers.
The home side could not have started the afternoon any worse - a move down the left saw Dan Gray float a ball into the penalty area, but hesitancy in the Spittal ranks saw Liam Wotherspoon get a running jump on Richard Baxendale to head past the returning Stevie Mason.
They then went close when Peter Murray broke into the left hand side of the box, but good work from Ben Fairbairn saw him ushered away from goal, Mason equal to his effort from the tight angle. Various other shots came in from distance, but with Spittal adopting a rigid shape and two strict banks of four, they continually frustrated the table topping visitors for the majority of the half.
Spittal’s response to the early setback was splendid and they soon fashioned opportunities of their own. Stuart Coyle found the leveller after dispossessing Callum Uddgren on the edge of his own box to fire past a helpless Brad Skirpan - the fifth match in a row that the forward has found the net, setting a new club record in the process for consecutive games scored.
He then went for a ‘Beckhamesque’ shot from the halfway line which had Skirpan in a panic - fortunately for the goalkeeper, however it swirled off target in the Newfields breeze.
An unbelieveably good challenge from Uddgren then repelled Coyle as he latched onto Terry Fannon’s accurate through ball to go through on goal. Spittal’s other notable chance of the half fell to Luke Strangeways, the winger had gotten in behind Lewis Cann after good work from Marco Lambert only to shoot inches wide with a powerfully drilled attempt.
On the stroke of half-time, Spartans were awarded a corner when the ball had clearly not clipped any Rovers player on the way through. With the home side incensed, an inswinging corner was met by prolific striker Karl Lazzari, who pivoted well to turn the ball home from his near post position to edge his side in front, giving them a huge lift.
An early Blyth goal in the second half proceeded several dangerous corners and a great save via Mason’s feet which prevented Lazzari from scoring a certain goal. The curling cross that brought the goal was headed off the line by Kyle Jeffrey on the post, but it was Murray who reacted quickest, hitting a thunderous drive through Spittal traffic after ghosting in at the far side.
The game was killed off when Jamie Punton ran across the path of Owen Davidson in the box - Lazarri calmly slotting the resulting spot kick into the bottom corner. Another penalty followed moments later which caused further debate as the infringement was at least a yard outside of the area.
Wotherston stepped up this time, but Mason saved superbly well. The ball was somehow recycled from the resulting save though and Wotherston made no mistake with his second attempt - a powerful header crashing off the underside of the bar and in.
At the other end, Coyle and Paul Wood both went close from set pieces, but it was Lazzari who was to wrap up the scoring for the afternoon - swivelling on the edge of the box to accurately place his effort into the bottom corner to complete his hat-trick. The number 9 has scored an astonishing eight goals in two league matches against the Seasiders.
One positive to take from the game for manager Scott Mitchell was 16 year old Craig Bell who completed his first 90 minutes in a black & white shirt and looks to be a great prospect.