Blyth Spartans 5-2 Whitby Town

BELIEVE it or not, Spartans took their first step on the road to Wembley last night. Saturday’s first and last minute goals for Whitby Town brought 408 poor souls out for an FA Cup 2nd Qualifying Round Replay on a night most locals would’ve rather spent spitting into the hearth between bouts of kicking the dog and barking at the wife (or the other way round).

As if to remind everyone this was a cup tie and it was still only September, one Whitby fan travelled to Blyth in shirt sleeves and a big blue curly wig. He won’t be doing that again.

Within three minutes, Mark Tinkler (yes, that one) had to reshuffle his Whitby back line after a colleague was not only dismissed from the field for a professional foul, but ejected from the ground for an audible lunge on the dressing room door which separated it from its hinges. An hour later, Tinkler took football’s least private early bath for handling on the line.

Between the two dismissals was a committed show from the Northern League side. While Tony Hackworth (yes, that one) inspired Whitby to pass, shoot, chase, foul and brawl like they meant it, Blyth sought the safety of their own half, awkwardly bobbling the ball amongst themselves as if playing on a surface of upturned egg boxes.

In the end, Whitby’s aggression proved to be their undoing, as they took a lead neither ten nor nine men could maintain before Spartans emerged 5-2 victors purely on the basis that, even though it didn’t look like it, for 87 minutes they had more players.

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