Replay agony for Blyth in FA Cup

Blyth Spartans.Blyth Spartans.
Blyth Spartans.
Blyth Spartans put up a battling performance but ultimately exited the FA Cup, beaten by Wrexham in a fourth round replay at The Racecourse ground on Tuesday.

Blyth, a club with a great FA Cup tradition, fought their way back from a goal down at home on Saturday, a last minute free kick from Michael Richardson earning them a deserved replay in front of 2,787 fans at Croft Park.

In Tuesday’s replay, Wrexham, who are backed by Hollywood star Ryan Reynolds, stormed into a 3-0 half-time lead.

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But Blyth’s spirit shone through in the second half and they made a fight of it by scoring two goals which gave their Welsh opponents something to think about.

Wrexham took the lead after nine minutes with a flick from Palmer, and just three minutes later it was 2-0 when Mullen scored with a header.

Thethird goal on 36 minutes was a close range effort from Davies, and it put the Spartans on the back foot.

Blyth knew they were up against it, but in the second half they showed plenty of character as they forced their way back into the game.

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On 53 minutes they pulled a goal back when JJ O’Donnell cut in from the left and drilled a low shot into the corner.

And just four minutes later they struck again to make it 3-2 when Richardson fired home after the ball broke to him on the edge of the box.

Blyth grew in confidence and they pressed forward in search of an equaliser, but Wrexham managed to hang on, despite seven minutes of nervous time added on at the end of the 90.

At the end of the day their efforts were just not enough, but the players, the mnagement and their supporters can be proud of their efforts.

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In Saturday’s game at a bouncing Croft Park, Blyth started well with some good early possession and tested the keeper forcing a corner. Wrexham struggled to get a foothold in the game early on giving away possession cheaply.

It was a typical end to end cup tie with chances being created at both ends, but in the first half the two defences were on top and the sides turned around at 0-0.

In the second half, Blyth pressed high and forced errors, having a few efforts on goal with McKeown’s blocked shot on the edge of the box and another long-range strike going wide. Lee’s long-range strike from the edge of the area was charged down by O’Donnell from a short throw and the rebounding ball was crossed but went out of play.

Wrexham brought on strikers Paul Mullin and Olly Palmer to try and impose themselves on the game. The Welsh side took the lead with a freekick just on the edge of the from Tom O’Connor was struck took a deflection off the wall and bounced into the top right corner.

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Spartans brought the game level when a freekick on the left deep in the Wrexham half was driven in by Michael Richardson and bounced through the crowded penalty area and past a bemused Howard in goal.

Well into added time Blyth’s fans hearts were in their mouths when Paul Mullins’ shot rebounded to Palmer who hit the ball just wide of the far post.