Blyth Spartans 0-2 Gateshead

27/02/2011, by Jeff Bowron

James CurtisGateshead are through to the semi-final of the FA Trophy for the first time after overcoming local rivals Blyth Spartans in the last eight in front of a big crowd at Croft Park.

Gateshead, backed by their biggest following for four decades - 967, scored twice in the first half and then ensured there was no Blyth backlash in the second.

A 13th minute own goal from Gateshead-born, former Gateshead defender, Chris Swailes, and another from defender James Curtis six minutes later gave Gateshead the initiative.

Ian Bogie's side bossed the first half with Tim Deasy forced to make only routine saves from Paul Brayson and John Alexander while Gateshead looked to put the game beyond the hosts.

With on loan full backs James Tavernier and Michael Liddle bombing on and Phil Turnbull orchestrating play like a conductor on the last night of the proms the Heed were comfortable.

Blyth came much more into the game in the second half, Brayson clipping the outside of a post and capitalising on a Gateshead mistake to hit the bar in the last minute.

The Tynesiders remained dangerous on the counter attack, Nathan Fisher missing a golden chance to make it three, while the defence, Ben Clark and Curtis in particular, held firm.

Gateshead started brightly with Robbie Dale picking up a booking in the first minute for a terrible tackle on Liddle, the only bad challenge of the afternoon.

Both midfields were packed with ball players but it was Gateshead who dominated possession in the opening 45 minutes.

Turnbull volleyed over from a Martin Brittain cross and then twin brother Stephen's sweeping ball found Brayson on the right flank.

The Conference North's top gun cut inside but his angled shot was easily held by Deasy at the foot of his near post.

Gateshead were then ahead when Liddle's cross from the left was sliced past his own keeper and into the far corner by Swailes.

It was a gift and before Blyth could recover more poor defending saw Clark square the ball for Curtis to sidefoot home his first goal of the season from close range.

Between the goals another sweeping long ball, this time from Dale, found John Alexander in the left channel, the striker cutting inside only to shoot straight at Deasy.

Gateshead's main problems were coming from the repeated discharging of smoke bombs from the home end which wafted across the pitch.

Craig Nelthope's deep cross saw Tavernier rise well only to head into the hands of Lowson while Nelthorpe shot over from distance.

Gateshead were not at their best in the second half but defended resolutely as Blyth probed for the goal that would get them back into the game.

Gate headed an early Liddle dink into the box wide before Nicky Deverdics, one of six former Gateshead players in the home side, picked out Brayson lurking on the left.

The front man eased past Curtis to hit a shot from the tightest of angles that hit the outside of the near post though Deasy had the shot covered.

Gate then won the ball in midfield to set up Nelthorpe but, after briefly creating space for himself, the winger failed to pull the trigger and the chance went begging.

Blyth won their one and only corner in the 64th minute and there was a scare for Gateshead a minute later when Dale's cross dropped for Stephen Turnbull in the box.

Liddle, however, reacted quickly to charge down the midfielder's shot, but the pressure was building on Ian Bogie's side.

The game was stopped briefly when the referee handed in an object that had been thrown at Deasy from the home end.

Nelthorpe then volleyed wide and Turnbull's rasping 25 yard shot tested Lowson before Brian Wake, on for virus victim Jon Shaw, headed a Brittain cross over the bar.

Gateshead should then have stretched their lead in the 77th minute in front of a Plessey Road End packed with their own fans.

Wake lifted the ball over Swailes but the unmarked Fisher volleyed wide of the near post when he should have done better.

Neal Hooks' shot from outside the area was held by Deasy with Dale also having an effort on goal as Blyth mounted late pressure.

A mistake by Gate in midfield , compounded by Clark's stumble, let the dangerous Brayson in in the last minute but his shot cannoned off the bar.

Dale's overhead kick from the rebound went straight into Deasy's arms with Fisher wide from 25 yards at the other end as Gateshead closed the game out.

The win completed a fantastic February that must have Bogie nailed on to be named Blue Square Bet Premier Manager of the Month - seven straight wins, five of them away from home, with 22 goals scored and just three conceded.


Blyth Spartans: Lowson, Groves, Cave, Deverdics, Swailes, Buchanan, Hooks, S.Turnbull, Brayson, Alexander (O'Mahoney 70m), Dale
Subs (not used): Wright, Smith, Wilkinson, Cunningham (gk)

Booking: Dale (1)

MATCH STATS: Attempts On 9 Attempts Off 2, Corners 1, Ct. Offside 5, Fouls 7, Yellow Cards 1


Gateshead: Deasy, Tavernier (Baxter 68), Liddle, Gate, Curtis, Clark, Brittain, P.Turnbull, Shaw (Wake 62), Fisher (Winn 90), Nelthorpe
Subs (not used): Farman (gk), Gillies

Goals: Swailes-og (13), Curtis (19)

Booking: Turnbull (24)

MATCH STATS: Attempts On 8, Attempts Off 7, Corners 2, Ct. Offside 0, Fouls 9, Yellow Cards 1


Referee: Dean Mohareb (Cheshire)

Att: 2,719


Jon Shaw challenges Dan Lowson

Jon Shaw challenges Dan Lowson


James Curtis scores Gatesheads second

James Curtis scores Gateshead's second


Ben Clark and Kris Gate

Clark and Gate peer through the gloom


Nathan Fisher

Nathan Fisher takes on the Blyth defence


Gateshead players celebrate with the fans as the Tynesiders advance to the semi-finals

Gateshead players celebrate victory with the fans. Photos by Martin Avery & Steven Hadlow.