By Jonny O’Gorman
A vastly improved second half performance wasn’t enough for new look Gloucester City as Tim Flower’s first game in charge ended in a 4-2 defeat to Blyth Spartans.
First half goals by JJ Hooper and Jordan Hickey sandwiched Harry Emmett’s first goal for City on his debut. Nicky Deverdics and Lewis Knight added two second half goals for Spartans either side of a Harry Williams strike for the visitors.
The hosts started the brighter of the two sides and almost took the lead in the 21st minute. A corner swung in by the hosts found the head of Hooper, but the striker’s header was well stopped by Liam Armstrong and Hickey failed to convert the loose ball before City cleared the danger.
Minutes later the hosts were denied again by the City ‘keeper. Hooper raced away from the City defence, but Armstrong raced off his line to block the effort at the feet of the former City forward. Armstrong then made his third save in quick succession when he expertly tipped a Deveredics free kick over the bar.
Blyth finally made the breakthrough in the thirty fourth minute. A Tyrone Duffus pass back was too short and was seized upon by Hooper who then collided with an onrushing Armstrong. The referee pointed to the spot. Hooper then dusted himself down to fire past Armstrong and give the hosts the lead on his debut for the club.
Against the pattern of play of the first half, City responded almost immediately. Joe Parker picked up the ball on the touchline and fired a fierce effort which wasn’t held by Alex Mitchell in the Blyth goal, Harry Emmet got to the ball quickest and managed to nestle the ball into the back of the net. The scores didn’t stay level for long, Jordan Hickey picked up a loose ball twenty yards from goal out and rifled the ball into the bottom left-hand corner past a helpless Armstrong.
The hosts carried their momentum into the second half. On the hour mark City thought they had cleared their lines; however, the ball fell to the feet of Deverdics and the Spartans captain sent sublime curling effort into the top right-hand corner.
In response City introduced Harry Williams and Brandon Smalley in the 67th minute and the former made an immediate impact. Williams raced away from the Blyth defence and lifted the ball over the onrushing Alex Mitchell into the net to give the Tigers a lifeline.
City pushed for an unlikely equaliser and Williams had a chance for a second, but his near post effort was pushed away by Mitchell. Spartans finished the game off in the 89th minute. The hosts broke away and a cross by Curtis Round found substitute Lewis Knight who side footed the ball past Armstrong and sealed all three points for the North East side.
City play their first home game of next Saturday 12th August when Bishops Stortford visit the TigerTurf Stadium. Tickets are on sale here. Kids under 11 go free.