BLYTH Spartans’ mini-revival was brought to a halt at Chorley, but Paddy Atkinson was enthused by his side’s “best away performance of the season”.
The Croft Park club had ended a run of seven games, six of them in the league, without victory with back-to-back wins over Matlock Town in Evo-Stik Premier and Stocksbridge Park Steels in the League Cup. While that ended at the ninth-placed ‘other, other’ Magpies, manager Atkinson refused to be too downhearted.
He said: “That’s the best we’ve played away from home this season.
“We only lost to a 35-yard strike which went right in the top corner. The lads are gutted because they played really well.”
That said, Chorley might have led inside 12 minutes, only for Curtis Haley’s ‘goal’ to be ruled out for offside.
However, the let-off sparked Blyth into life and before half-time they went close through Andy Jennings, Phil Airey and Damon Mullen.
The second half saw Chorley step up a gear and only a point-blank save by Conor Grant denied Darren Stephenson before Shaun Utterson cleared Andy Teague’s header off the line. Robbie Dale and Utterson then threatened at the opposite end.
However, on 69 minutes the hosts broke the deadlock, when Dale Whitham picked up Richie Slaughter’s headed clearance and rifled into the top corner from distance.
Far from folding, however, Spartans rallied and went agonisingly close to salvaging what would have been a deserved point.
Combining with Neal Hooks, Utterson’s floated shot narrowly missed both the far post and the onrushing Dan Maguire.
In the dying seconds Utterson and Maguire linked up to tee up Craig Hubbard, whose low, 20-yard shot was saved by Jack Cudworth.
Atkinson added: “The thing me and Tom (Wade, assistant manager) are trying to do is improve the side and the spirit.
“When we took over it was all about staying together and becoming more solid. This was disappointing because there were good signs.
“The first half was probably the best we have played away from home but lady luck has gone against us again.”
CHORLEY: Cudworth, Ross, Russell, O’Brien, Teague, Whitham, Roscoe, Parillion, Haley (Breem), Stephenson, Cunliffe (Vermiglio).
BLYTH SPARTANS: Grant, Utterson, Airey, Stanger (Vipond), Buchanan, Slaughter, Mullen (Hubbard), Hooks, Jennings, McGorrigan (Maguire), Dale.
Referee: Mr J Hunt Attendance: 608