VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE NORTH
Venue: Croft Park, Blyth
Date: Saturday 5th January 2019
Kick Off: 3.00pm
SCORE UPDATES / MATCH COMMENTARY
Adults – £12
Concessions – £7
11-16’s – £5
Under 10’s – FREE with a paying Adult
£2 Stand Transfer Applies
By Stuart Dick
Blyth Spartans return to Croft Park for their fifth game in 14 days as they host Alfreton Town in the Vanarama National League North.
Alun Armstrong’s side have come through a tough Christmas schedule picking up two wins and two draws against Chorley, Spennymoor Town and York City – extending an 11-game unbeaten run that stretches back to the start of November.
But the host must wary of over complacency against an opponent who have had Spartans number in recent meetings. Blyth are currently eighth in the Vanarama National League North, outside of play-offs on goal difference.
Alfreton Town have had a difficult season after losing the services of Tom Denton to Football League side Chesterfield – residing in 14th place in the table, eight points of the relegation zone, but also eight points off the play-offs in the unpredictable National League North.
They have lost 11 games this season, winning eight and drawing five, but have won just four of their last 16 games in all competitions. Away from home they have won two of their last three and are bit of a bogey side for Spartans.
The tale of the tape:
The sides have met on 26 occasions with Spartans having the better of the all-time series picking up 11 wins.
Alfreton have won nine of the meetings, and perhaps more importantly have won the last six meeting between the two sides – with six draws altogether.
The last Spartans victory was back in October 2009 when a youthful Robert Dale bagged a brace in a 2-0 win at Croft Park. Dale has scored four times against our visitors this weekend, including earlier this season in a 3-1 defeat.
Billy Heath Joined Alfreton Town in May 2018, having previously managed Bridlington Town 2000-2006, Frickley 2006-2011, North Ferriby 2011-2016. In this time, he won FA Trophy Halifax Town 2016-2018.
Heath has guided North Ferriby to two promotions, the first from the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League in the 2012-13 season; Billy oversaw the Villagers F.A. Trophy success in the 2014-15 season after a 3-3 draw in normal time against Wrexham, Ferriby prevailed on penalties.
Heath won his second promotion which came in the 2015-16 campaign as North Ferriby beat AFC Fylde 2-1 in extra time in the Play Off final, which secured a place in the National League from the National League North.
Billy then made the switch to Halifax Town ahead of the 2016/17 season and he guided the Shaymen to promotion back to the National League after a 2-1 extra time win over Chorley in the Play Off final.
Heath then left Halifax in January 2018 by mutual consent.
The Key Man:
Reece started his playing career in 2008 with Hednesford before moving to Grantham, Coalville Town, Shepshed Dynamo and Chasetown. He then moved to Forest Green in January 2010 until July 2014 when he joined Kidderminister Harriers. Reece is a Gibraltarian international with 4 caps to his name.
The forward has a tendency to get under the skin of defenders and opposing supporters alike and has already scored against Blyth this season when on the books of Darlington. He’s scored 12 goals this season – 7 for Alfreton Town – and is always a threat.
Spartans Team News and Milestones:
Robert Dale is now just one goal away from 200 in a Blyth Spartans shirt.
Dan Maguire is now just one goal away from 150 in a Blyth Spartans shirt.
Peter Jameson and Sean Reid are the only ever-presents left this season having played in all 30 games to date, Jameson playing every minute of the campaign to date. Connor Oliver and Dan Maguire have appeared in every National League North fixture.