JACK’S IN THE BOX FOR THE AMMIES
NATIONAL League North pacesetters Salford City stretched their lead at the top to nine points after a big win at Blyth Spartans.
It was clash between the joint leading scorers in the division, Blyth, against the side with the best defence.
And the Ammies, still unbeaten on their travels in the league, showed all of their defensive qualities to come win this top-four battle.
Blyth threw everything at Salford in a one-sided second period but didn’t work goalkeeper Sam Slocombe enough.
For all Spartans’ pressure the Ammies held firm, captain Liam Hogan a towering presence at the heart of the visitors defence.
The former Gateshead and Tranmere man, however, was fortunate to stay on the pitch after picking up a first half booking.
Referee Garreth Rhodes was hardly flavour of the month at Croft Park, Blyth boss Alun Armstrong confronting the official on the pitch at the end.
“I didn’t want to get into it but I thought the referee had a really poor game and has probably cost the lads a point,” said Armstrong, who guided Blyth to the Evo-Stik NPL title last season in his first campaign as manager.
“There were three or four players who were already on bookings and he’s bottled sending them off.
“The players are fuming that the big decisions went against them and I’ve never seen a more blatant penalty than the one that wasn’t given at the end.
“Salford defended exceptionally well, but anyone who was at the game will agree that we were the better side.”
In the end it took a 36th minute penalty from National League North player of the month Jack Redshaw to separate the two sides.
Nathan Buddle failed to deal with a ball over the top, Blyth keeper Peter Jameson bringing down Redshaw, who calmly slotted home the spot kick.
Spartans top scorer Dan Maguire was twice off target after the break, David Atkinson clearing a rare Salford threat off the line.
In a frantic final ten minutes Blyth had efforts from the lively Jarrett Rivers and
Buddle cleared off the line, no penalty given when Sean Reid went down in stoppage time.
“Blyth are as good as we’ve played all season,” said Salford joint-manager Bernard Morley. “But it was a magnificent defensive effort from our boys. Blyth will feel hard done by coming away with nothing, but that’s why we’re top of the league and have the best defensive record.”
RED ALERT: Jack Redshaw enjoys his goal that sends Salford nine points clear at the top of the table
CITY SLICKER: Jack Redshaw fires in his penalty