Jarrett Rivers wrote another chapter in Blyth Spartans’ rich FA Cup history as his last-minute winner earned his side a 2-1 win at Hartlepool United.
Famous for their Cup upsets of yesteryear, The Spartans continued their journey into The Third Round Proper after coming from a goal down at the break to shock their League Two opponents.
The victory did not come without controversy, but none of that will matter to manager Tom Wade as he and his side begin to dream of pulling out a Premier League tie in Monday’s draw.
It was Pools who started the stronger, taking the game to their non-League guests from the off as they attacked in front of over a thousand visiting supporters.
And with just three minutes on the clock the League Two side thought they had taken the lead, a cross finding the head of Sidney Schmeltz who directed it towards the bottom right corner, but Hartlepool-supporting Spartans keeper Peter Jeffries produced a fantastic one-handed save to deny the winger.
The visitors struggled to get to get grips with the fast tempo with which the opposition were dictating play with.
They struggled to get out of their own half for the opening 20 minutes as Pools pressed them well, with Jonathan Franks looking a particular danger down the right.
lyth soon began to compose themselves, and they enjoyed a little spell of possession that led to their first opportunity after winning a set-piece.
Daniel Hawkins drilled a free-kick from 25 yards towards goal, and the ball took a slight deflection of the wall en route, but Scott Finders stood firm to collect two-handed.
After a neat move Neil Austin got to the right byline and floated a cross back towards the back post for the lurking Franks to head into the empty net on 31 minutes.
The game then exploded into life as the action unfolded at both ends in a crazy few minutes that saw four quick-fire scoring opportunities spurned.
Austin’s fierce drive was twice denied by the block of defender Ryan Hutchinson, before Marlon Harewood sent a headed effort into the side-netting as Pools came close to doubling their lead.
But Blyth were not going down easily, and they fought back with chances of their own.
Flinders spilled a low Daniel Maguire drive for a corner before the forward then headed straight into the arms of the keeper after Hutchinson’s knock back.
The end-to-end action relented, and both teams were able to regroup as the half-time whistle approached.
Now shooting towards their own fans, the Spartans came out a rejuvenated side after the restart.
They forced the early attacking play as they attempted to levels matters at Victoria Park and deservedly struck back through their former Pools man.
Eleven minutes into the second period they won a free-kick 25 yards out in the centre of the pitch.
Turnbull stepped up to send a fabulous powerful curling strike over the wall and into the top corner to spark wild celebrations among his team-mates and fans alike.
Blyth’s tails were up, and despite Brad Walker firing a long-range for the home side narrowly wide, it was they who had the ascendency.
As the game approached the final 30 minutes, it was Pools who felt hard done by on 65 minutes.
Controversy struck as Franks crossed from the right for Walker to head into the path of Harwood, and the former Aston Villa striker turned and struck the ball towards goal.
The Blyth goalkeeper failed to hold onto the ball as it hit the post and back off him, before the ball trickled towards the line as he struggled to collect.
Things were about to get a whole lot worse as the game reached the final minute.
Pools left back Dan Jones slipped and Rivers picked up the ball.
He surged 15 yards forward into the box before firing through the legs of Bates and into the net as the crowd piled on the hero during the celebrations.
A desperate Hartlepool tried in vain to grab a replay, with a scramble in the box seeing the ball fall to Bates to volley from 18 yards.
But his deflected strike cannoned off the crossbar as his side’s FA Cup dreams were ended by their part-time north-east neighbours.
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