What a great result for Heaton Stannington, to win by a single goal at Gateway Park, Blyth on a Friday night against a lively home side, full of youth and enthusiasm, and in the second half showed a lot of ability.
Dean Nicholson said, “It was never going to be a straight forward easy three points against a side like Blyth. Micky (Connor, Blyth Town manager) has got them bang up for it. I think they are in a false position. A very well drilled side with loads of energy.”
And that is how it turned out.
Heaton Stannington started the match so well, with five attempts in the first six minutes, the best of them when former Blyth Town centre back Rhys Groves headed over the bar when well placed at the back post.
It was no surprise when they scored on 11 minutes, when Dan Stephenson hit a brilliant diagonal 60 yard pass for Leighton Hopper, who got to the byline, to then put in a great cross to the back post for Dean Holmes to sweetly put away from close range for his 10th league goal of the season.
It could have been more for on 19 and 26 mins but for home keeper Callum Corkhill who dived full length to deny Hopper and then David Luke. The keeper had kept his team in the match.
It was just past the half hour when the hosts tested Dan Regan with a shot from Callum Johnston from about 25 yards out, bur Regan saved comfortably.
Just on the stroke of half time Hopper won a corner on the left, Stephenson took it with Hopper heading just over the bar.
It had been a good start from the league leaders, but a second goal wouldn’t come and Blyth had showed signs that this match was not over yet.
Blyth started the second half by replacing Dylan McBill with Kieran Brannen
What a glorious chance for Blyth on 49 minutes, a free kick to the left for it to be headed back for Callum Johnston to volley wide, when it should have been the equaliser.
Then 4 minutes later Regan was out of his area to meet Johnston as he looked to take advantage of a good through ball, but with more luck than skill Regan swept up the danger.
On 59 minutes Ryan Bailey, was booked for a foul and 4 minutes later he was substituted by Andy Burn.
On 67 minutes Regan stopped a low drive from Brannen with his feet and there followed a few blockings to deny Blyth, one by David Luke, the ball hitting him in the face.
On 70 minutes James Proctor replaced Holmes
One of Hopper’s mazy runs down the flank leaving defenders in his wake, but Ben Fell lived up to his name, and came across and took him out, a yellow card. From the free kick Groves volleyed wide.
Back came Blyth with Brandon Slater hitting the post with a low shot.
With around 10 minutes remaining Jay Hornsby was booked for kicking the ball away when penalised, as Heaton Stann sought to run the clock down.
But on 86 mins man of the match Hopper cleverly jinked inside the area and curled the ball over keeper Corkhill but Chris Fenton on the line headed the ball away.
Kevin Carr came on for Stephenson with 5 minutes added on, with a third booking for Heaton Stann for time wasting from Regan.
Blyth Town having been outplayed in the first half, gave a wonderful second half performance and made it very uncomfortable for a large number of away fans in a crowd of 326.
“To keep a clean sheet and win one nil,” made Nicholson “very happy. We ground a result out. Sometimes you win ugly, it happens. We showed tonight a little different side of us. That we can roll our sleeves up, and give that committent.”
Credit – Joe Street