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Stanley win edges them closer to title

Accrington Stanley 3 Blyth Spartans 2

LEADERS Accrington Stanley are within sight of the finishing line, well clear of the pack and should seal promotion with games to spare barring a Devon Loch-style disaster.

Stanley raced into an eighth-minute lead. Playmaker Mike Marsh hit a ball out of defence which sent striker Lutel James scampering down the inside-left channel. He outpaced Ian Dixon and delightfully slipped his shot past onrushing keeper Phil Naisbett with the outside of his right foot.

The lead was doubled on 19 minutes. Steve Halford's powerful header from a corner was cleared off the line but when full-back Steve Hollis returned the ball into the danger area from wide on the left, Andy Proctor's speculative volley from the edge of the box sailed over Naisbett and into the net.

But Blyth grabbed a shock lifeline deep into first-half injury time. Gareth Williams bent in a free-kick from the right and David McMahon stooped to power a header home.

The home side re-established their two-goal cushion within 80 seconds of the restart. Marsh and James combined to send Russell Payne to the by-line and his exquisite cross was met by a glancing header from Paul Mullin which directed the ball into the net off the far post - a stunning goal in both creation and execution.

But just before the hour, determined Blyth hit back. Booth cut a ball back from the left and when winger Steve Stewart's shot proved too hot for Speare to handle, McMahon was first to react and stabbed the loose ball home.

A late Jamie Speare save secured the win for Stanley and edged them closer to promotion and the league title.

  • See Friday's Observer for a full report on the match


Stuart Pike
Deputy editor specialising in politics
Alex Bell
Bethany English
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Jon Macpherson
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