How we use Cookies

Victorious Reds quash Blyth's spirit

Unibond Premier League Tuesday 1 April Blyth Spartans 0 Stanley 3

SCORER ... Prendergast
SCORER ... Prendergast

Unibond Premier League

Tuesday 1 April

Blyth Spartans 0 Stanley 3

Blyth: Naisbett, Morton, Martin, Hutton, Forster, Dixon, Williams, Perry, Emerson (Rutter 75 mins), Booth (McMahon 65 mins), Stewart.

Accrington Stanley: Speare, Cavanagh, Hollis, Halford, Smith, Proctor, Flitcroft, Gouck, James (Welch 83 mins), Mullin, Prendergast.

Scorers: Mullin, Prendergast, Proctor.

Referee: M Tilling. Attendance: 418.

ACCRINGTON Stanley moved closer to lifting the UniBond League Premier Division title after a convincing 3-0 win at struggling Blyth Spartans.

An early strike by Paul Mullin put the Reds in control but it wasn't until goals in the final 14 minutes from Rory Prendergast and Andy Proctor that the game was put out of the reach of the spirited home side.

This latest victory put John Coleman's side 10 points ahead of Barrow in second place with a trip to Droylsden tomorrow to look forward to.

Without the injured Mike Marsh, Stanley got the start they wanted through Mullin who notched his 28th goal in all competitions after only two minutes.

An error by John Hutton allowed Mullin the chance to turn and drill a low shot past home keeper Phil Naisbett to the delight of the travelling support.

Jonathan Smith sent a looping header wide of goal from a Steve Flitcroft corner as the visitors continued to dominate the early exchanges on a pitch of uneven bounce.

Lutel James and Mullin combined well to cause more problems for the home defence but Naisbett made a fine point-blank save to deny James.

Little had been seen of Blyth as an attacking force although Scott Emerson blazed well wide in a rare opening for the North Easterners.

Naisbett was out of goal smartly to punt the ball away from the advancing Mullin after a clearance out of defence by Steve Halford had carved open the Blyth defence.

Steve Hollis sustained a painful knee injury in an awkward collision with Spartans skipper Richard Forster. Mullin demonstrated his defensive abilities with a vital header away from his own goalmouth to deny Forster a scoring opportunity from Craig Perry's set piece as Blyth threatened briefly towards the interval.

A Gareth Williams free kick was headed wide by Forster but Accrington deservedly went in at the break with their slender one-goal lead.

With the wind at their backs, Blyth made a bright start to the second period with the previously redundant Jamie Speare diving bravely at Emerson's feet.

James was always a threat for Stanley and his low cross found Mullin who nudged the ball past Naisbett but defender Colin Morton was on hand to clear.

Flitcroft blazed wide of the target after receiving Prendergast's pass before the industrious Proctor shot past the post as the visitors weathered the home side's pressure.

Stanley increased their lead after 76 minutes when Prendergast curled a shot past the helpless keeper from the edge of the box to kill the game off.

The majority of the crowd was further disappointed when Proctor capped a fine individual display to notch his fifth goal of the season.

He rose majestically at the far post after being picked out by Prendergast's fine set piece to give his side a 3-0 lead.

Flitcroft was denied by the impressive Blyth keeper, who kept out a 30-yard half volley as Stanley looked for further goals.

Brian Welch, an 83rd minute replacement for James, nearly got his name on the scoresheet but prodded wide from close range.

Blyth almost grabbed a consolation goal in the closing minutes through Stewart but his 25-yard piledriver flew inches over the bar.

In the end, it was a competent and professional display from the league leaders as they recorded a quickfire league double over the Spartans on a bitterly cold North East night.


Stuart Pike
Deputy editor specialising in politics
Alex Bell
Bethany English
District reporter
Beth Abbit
Court reporter
Jon Macpherson
Kate Watkins
Reporter specialising in communities
Garth Dawson
Photographer and columnist