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Blyth Spartans 3 - 2 Aberdeen

HT Score: Blyth Spartans 0 - 0 Aberdeen

Texo Challenge Trophy
Blyth Spartans scorers: Wrightson 49, Bollan (o.g.) 80, Fenwick 84
Aberdeen scorers: Ruth 75, Barry 91.

28/07/2019 | KO: 15:00

Paul Sheerin's young hopefuls headed to the North East of England for their next pre-season fixture taking on Blyth Spartans of the National League North, England's sixth tier. At stake was the Texo Challenge Trophy as the two clubs locked horns for the first time at Blyth's home ground, the trim and tidy Croft Park.

Spartans, currently managed by former Kilmarnock boss and Newcastle United midfielder Lee Clark, have been in fine form this summer winning all their friendlies as they build up towards their first league fixture against Gloucester City next Saturday. This would be a real test for the young Dons ahead of the competitive games against Deveronvale and Brora Rangers in the Aberdeenshire Cup and Tunnocks Caramel Wafer Challenge Cup over the next ten days.

Danny Rogers started in goal behind a youthful back four of Calvin Ramsay, Luc Bollan, Lloyd Robertson and Trialist. Sean Linden and Michael Ruth were the wide men flanking the sitters in midfield Miko Virtanen and Dean Campbell. Seb Ross was in the number 10 role behind main striker Bruce Anderson.

Spartans had a couple of familiar faces in their squad, Mark Foden once of Ross County and Lewis Horner who had a spell at Inverness Caley Thistle.

Blyth forced Rogers into making a couple of saves in the opening minute, first from Wrightson then from Sweet. Aberdeen then settled into the game and Foden had to race from his line to clear from Anderson who had made a clever run in behind the Spartans defence.

Ramsay came within a whisker of giving the Dons the lead in the 10th minute, his fierce left-footed effort whistling just over. Aberdeen were pressing well and not allowing Blyth time on the ball but when Wrightson was able to get some possession, the little winger looked dangerous.

Blyth forced the game's first corner in the 18th minute but Mullen's delivery was too strong. Wrightson threatened again in the 28th minute but he was forced to shot high after being put under pressure.
Blyth striker Sweet was denied first by Bollan then by Rogers as he tried to break the deadlock then Foden was forced into a save by Ruth as the Dons counterattacked. Both sides were playing at a good tempo and there was little to choose between them in the opening half hour, although Danny Rogers had been the busier of the two keepers.

A good break by Ross down the left saw the Dons win their first corner in the 34th minute but Ramsay's flag-kick was booted clear. The Dons kept bodies forward for the throw-in and Foden was relieved to see Ramsay's back post cross float just behind.

Once again Bollan and Rogers combined to clear after Wrightson delivered a teasing ball into the six yard box then Pearson somehow fluffed his lines from only a few yards out as Blyth again pressed forward.

The diminutive Wrightson was again in the spotlight in the 38th minute, his dancing run through the middle ending with a left-foot shot which was narrowly wide.

Foden almost gifted Aberdeen the lead when his pass out of defence was intercepted by Anderson, but the keeper redeemed himself with a brave save at the feet of Ruth as the Dons man tried to round him.
At the other end Sweet headed over after Wrightson again provided the perfect cross for the striker to attack, then Rogers saved well at his post as the winger tried to catch him out.

Despite their opponents being more experienced and slightly superior in terms of physique, the young Dons hade held their own in the first half. Danny Rogers had been called into action more than his opposite number, but Aberdeen had enjoyed some chances of their own.

Half time - Blyth Spartans 0 Aberdeen XI 0

The only change at the interval was Blyth switching to their second strip of all blue, which was almost identical to Danny Rogers's goalie strip. Bizarrely referee Pill was happy to continue without the Dons keeper being asked to change.

On 49 minutes Spartans snatched the lead and to no-one's surprise the goal from their main threat winger Adam Wrightson, the winger smashing the ball past Rogers from the right edge of the six-yard box.

Bollan rose well to meet Campbell's corner on 56 minutes but his header flew wide. A great ball from Orrell almost saw Wrightson sprint clear on the right but our Trialist left back timed his tackle to perfection.

One trialist replaced the other at left back on 59 minutes while Luke Turner came on for Robertson in central defence.

Orrell's cross should have been converted at the far post by Sweet but the striker contrived to shoot wide, a glorious chance missed by Spartans. Lewis Duncan replaced Linden shortly before Anderson fired over after combining well with Ruth.

A clever near post corner from Campbell was fired narrowly over by Anderson as the Dons pushed for an equaliser. The leveller came on 75 minutes when Ruth caught Foden dallying on the ball to nip the ball away then over the keeper and into the net. Babe Ruth's fourth goal of pre-season for Aberdeen after moving north from Queens Park.

Aberdeen thought they had taken the lead three minutes later when Ruth stroked on Ross's cross, but the joy was cut short by an offside flag. Worse was to follow as Rogers blocked superbly from Orrell only to see the ball rebound off the unfortunate Luc Bollan into the net to give Blyth the lead for the second time.

Max Barry came on for Ross then on 84 minutes it was 3-1 to the home side, substitute Fenwick firing into the roof of the net after Rogers had parried another fine effort from Wrightson who deservedly won the Man of the Match award.

Aberdeen were not going down without a fight and Anderson swivelled to shoot just wide after being picked out by Duncan.

In stoppage time Max Barry made it 3-2 after good work from Anderson but Blyth held on to claim the spoils and the Texo Challenge Trophy.

Defeat for the Dons but plenty of positives to take from an entertaining, competitive friendly. Our congratulations to Blyth Spartans who will take our best wishes into their new season.

Full time - Blyth Spartans 3 Aberdeen XI 2

Blyth Spartans Teamsheet
Foden, Evans, Callaghan (Trialist 76), Robson (Spooner 61), Devitt, Hutchinson (Horner 88), Wrightson, Mullen (C) (Fenwick 76), Sweet (Mouanda 76), Orrell, Pearson (Butler 76).

Unused substitutes:- Dale, Trialist 2
Aberdeen Teamsheet
Rogers, Ramsay, A (B 59), Virtanen, Bollan, Robertson (Turner 59), Linden (Duncan 69), Ross (Barry 82), Anderson, Campbell, Ruth.

Unused Subs: Shanks, Barron, Jackson.
Attendance: 766
Venue: Croft Park, Blyth, Northumberland
Referee: David Pill
Next Match
St. Johnstone
28 Feb 2024 / 19:45 / Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen