VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE NORTH
Venue: Croft Park, Blyth
Date: Saturday 2nd March 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
Reciprocal Season Tickets | Ashington, North Shields
By Stuart Dick
Spartans return to Croft Park after a disappointing defeat at the hands of Chester in mid-week as Alun Armstrong looks to re-create the excitement of last Saturday’s 3-3 draw with Kidderminster Harriers.
Blyth are slowly drifting away from playoff contention with the squad eager to avoid mid-table mediocrity in the final few weeks of the season and will need a raucous support to halt a seven-game skid.
Blyth have won just one of their seven in all competitions, a 2-1 victory at Leamington last month, but Armstrong will be keen to rally his troops and put on a performance this afternoon against promotion chasing Brackley Town.
Earlier in the season the two sides met at St James’ Park with today’s visitors securing a late point after Blyth took the lead.
Currently sitting in fourth in the Vanarama National League North, Town are eight points adrift of third-placed Spennymoor Town and just three points ahead of eighth-placed Chester. Automatic promotion may be out of the question now for today’s visitors, but they’ll be eager to secure that playoff berth.
Overall, they have won 14, drawn nine and lost eight of their National League North fixtures to date and only concede just over a goal a game – renowned for having one of the sturdiest defences in the league.
Their away form has been extremely inconsistent with five wins, four draws and six defeats from 15 games played, while their home form matches the three teams above them. They have won six of their last seven games and lost just once in 10.
The tale of the tape:
All three meetings between the two sides have taken place since the start of last season, with both sides picking up a victory last campaign in addition to this season’s 1-1 draw.
At St James’ Park in 2016/17 Dan Maguire gave Spartans an 18th minute lead in a horrendous wind before the hosts replied in the second half with an Aaron Williams brace and a Shane Byrne strike.
The reverse fixture saw Maguire score after just three minutes before Jarrett Rivers doubled the lead two minutes later. Nipa added a third before the break in a comfortable 3-0 win over Town.
Kevin Wilkin is a former player at Northampton Town and Rushden and Diamonds. Joined Brackley in September 2015 after six and a half years as manager at Nuneaton Town and a season at Wrexham taking them to the FA Trophy final at Wembley.
The Key Man:
James was another player who gained promotion with Solihull Moors in 2015-16 before joining Brackley. James had progressed through Nuneaton Town’s youth set-up and gained an England “C” cap in 2013 against Latvia. Originally a Coventry City Academy player. In his five year stint with Nuneaton James amassed over 100 games scoring 17 times. He brought valuable experience to Kevin Wilkin’s Saints squad and scored an incredible 25 goals from midfield including a famous hat-trick in the FA Cup defeat of League One Gillingham.
He is the personification of versatility having played for Nuneaton in every position on the pitch, including goalkeeper. However, James favours an attacking midfield role. He is a former ‘Boro Player of the Year and immediately became a fans’ favourite at SJP.
He’s netted 12 goals so far in the league this season.
Spartans Team News and Milestones:
Peter Jameson and Dan Maguire are the only remaining players who have featured in every National League North game, but Jameson’s run will end today through suspension
Maguire is now two games away from 300 in a Blyth Spartans shirt.
Michael Liddle may once again miss out due to injury. Mark Foden is line to make his Spartans debut.