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West open with draw against Blyth Spartans

West kicked off their pre-season campaign at the second attempt as Blyth Spartans travelled to the Wanted Stadium.

Last nights away game against Tow  Law was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.

After a minutes silence in memory of Bradley Lowery the game got underway in glorious sunshine as Blyth kicked uphill.

The first few minutes were cagey as both sides looked to get to grips with the game.

The first chance fell the way of Spartans as Adam Wrightson operating at right wingback in a 3-5-2 formation drove forward before cutting in on his left before firing wide of the far post.

New signing Dale Hopson was showing glimpses of why Blyth secured his services and on 15 minutes he cut in from the left before curling an effort that produced an outstanding save from former Spartan Adam McHugh in West Auckland goal. From the resulting corner, one of the trialists saw his header deflected over the bar.

It took Auckland 20 minutes to register an effort and when it arrived it was of target. Nathan Fisher got in down the left but his effort from a tight angle was well wide of the far post.

A frenetic few minutes continued as Blyth burst forward and Wrightson once again found time and space but saw his initial effort blocked by McHugh and his rebound smothered by the keeper.

Play then switched back down the other end of the pitch as Nathan Fisher once again tried his luck but it was straight at the trialist in goal for Blyth.

Only seconds later and Blyth almost took the lead through Robbie Dale. He collected the ball on halfway before turning and having spotted McHugh off his line, lifted an effort that just cleared the cross bar.

As the half wore on, more chances were created by both sides, on 37 minutes Hopson and Dale combined to great affect and allowed the former a shot on goal but unfortunately it lacked the power to trouble McHugh.

West Auckland responded with a fantastic run down the right by Denver Morris who showed great pace to get past Liddle before seeing his shot deflected into the arms of the keeper at the near post.

A minute later and as play switched to the other end of the pitch, Blyth won a free kick 20 yards from goal. Hopson lined it up with his right foot and curled his shot inches wide of the post with McHugh beaten.

As the clock moved into the 45th minute, a fantastic through ball by a trialist allowed Wrightson to run on to it before finishing past McHugh. It was the last action of a half where Blyth created the better chances but were only able to go 1-0 up.

The second half took longer to get going after both sides made numerous substitutions. Indeed, the first chance of the half didn’t come until the 65th minute. Andrew Cartwright played a nice one-two with a trialist before cutting the ball back for ex-West player Jordan Laidler who saw his shot deflected wide.

On 78 minutes, West Auckland were awarded a penalty as a trialist fouled Morris in the box. Fisher stepped up to send a different trialist keeper the wrong way from the spot.

The final chance of the game fell the way of the home side as Fisher once again was able to work space for a shot that took a wicked deflection and forced the keeper into a fine save to keep the scores level.

The game ended 1-1 with perhaps the most important aspect of the game getting game time into the players as they began their preparations for the upcoming season in the Ebac Northern League Division one

West are on the road on Wednesday evening as they travel to Richmond for their second pre-season friendly.

West Auckland: McHugh, Hassan, Holden, McKeown, Parker, Galpin, Morris, Marron, Fisher, Wood, Bell.

Subs: Richardson, Connor, Hickman, Close, Nelson. (Various subs used)

Goal: Fisher (78 pen)

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