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Spartan collapse: Birmingham score three goals in 6 minutes to dump Blyth out

The seventh tier side were leading 2-0 at the break.

Wes Thomas was the Spartan conqueror.
Wes Thomas was the Spartan conqueror.
Image: Richard Sellers

Updated 16.55pm

FOR A WHILE, Blyth Spartans had another FA Cup giant killing within their grasp but three goals in the space of six second-half minutes turned the tie on its head and ensured it was Birmingham City who progressed to the fourth round.

Robbie Dale had sent to home fans into delirium with two goals before the break but the Championship side showed their class after the interval to spoil the party at Croft Park.

Lee Novak sparked the comeback before two goals in quick succession from Wes Thomas completed the turnaround and spared Gary Rowett’s sides’ blushes.

Dale, who is the club captain and divides his time between football and working in the family pub, turned in a low cross and then netted his seventh FA Cup goal in just six outings with superb individual run and finish from outside the area.

It sent the 4,450 fans inside Croft Park into delirium but their joy was short-lived as Birmingham emerged from the interval a different side.

Soccer - FA Cup - Third Round - Blyth Spartans v Birmingham City - Croft Park Robbie Dale put his side 2-0 up Source: Owen Humphreys

Blyth were the lowest-ranked side left in the competition and were hoping for another FA Cup giant killing after progressing to the fifth round in 1978. They had already beaten Hartlepool in the second round.

Birmingham have enjoyed a mini-revival of sorts under Rowett, who took charge in October after Lee Clark’s dismissal.

“It was a very, very nervy first half,” he said afterward. “You know what Blyth are going to do and they were absolutely brilliant this afternoon. That is what the FA Cup is all about. You all want to play in it and they ran us very close.”

“The key for us is that we had used 13 players over 10 games so we had to give them an opportunity and make changes. Don’t forget that all of our players today have played in at least the Championship. That is no excuse to how we started the game.

“We didn’t expect to be 2-0 down at half time and we needed to give the fans more. As soon as we got one Blyth’s heads went down.”

Soccer - FA Cup - Third Round - Blyth Spartans v Birmingham City - Croft Park Birmingham manager Gary Rowett had the last laugh Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

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Ryan Bailey

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