Match Preview | Spartans looks to improve indifferent home form

VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE NORTH
Venue: Croft Park, Plessey Road, Blyth, Northumberland, NE24 3JE
Date: Saturday 17th November 2018
Kick Off: 3:00pm

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ADMISSION
Adults – £12 (£2 extra for the Port of Blyth stand)
Concessions – £7 (£2 extra for the Port of Blyth stand)
Under 16’s – FREE (£2 extra for the Port of Blyth stand)

By Stuart Dick

Blyth Spartans will be looking to correct their indifferent home form when they welcome mid-table Curzon Ashton to Croft Park this weekend, in the knowledge that a win could move Blyth upto 12th, once place behind Curzon.

Away from home Spartans have picked up seven points from the last nine available after not winning on the road in eight months, but at Croft Park they have won just six of their last fourteen games.

The Opposition:

Curzon Ashton are currently 11th in the Vanarama National League North, four points ahead of Blyth Spartans in 17th. They’ve won 5, drawn 6 and lost 6 of the games so far this season in the league.

Away from home they have been extremely impressive, winning four, drawing three and losing just once to Chorley in eight games in the league. Jon Flanagan has his side well prepared when they travel away from the Tameside Stadium

The tale of the tape:

Spartans have a fantastic record against Curzon Ashton in their six meetings – in stark contrast to our last home opponents. The sides have met six times since 1994 with Blyth winning on five occasions, drawing the other.

Spartans form at home is even better, with three wins out of three. A brace from Steve Pyle helped Blyth to a 3-1 win in April 1995, Dan Maguire and Michael Richardson were on target when the sides met in January 2015 in a 2-1 win, and same scoreline in April this year saw Nathan Buddle and Damen Mullen on the scoresheet.

The Manager:

In his first season in change John Flanagan took the club to the Play-off Final where they were beaten by Witton Albion. Making the Play-off Final in his first season in change was tremendous achievement but the most significant accolade was finishing the season in the clubs highest ever league position finishing second to AFC Fylde. The season also saw Curzon create a record 17 games unbeaten from the start of the season as well as remaining undefeated at home for the first time since the mid-70’s.

2012-2013 saw the club celebrate their 50th Season but in terms of league success, it was their worst for some time, the club finishing seventh and missing out on the play-offs for the first time since they rejoined the NPL in 2007. On the bright side they reached the Final of the Doodson Sports Cup where they were beaten by Premier Division Champions North Ferriby United on penalties. The first seven penalties in the shootout were saved, which must be a record.

A team rebuild in the summer of 2013 saw the team get off to a flyer and they again had a magnificent start to the season, going 16 league games undefeated, before finally losing at the beginning of December. They then won seven on the bounce before their second league defeat in early February, ironically to the side which had beaten them previously – Ossett Town. However, they were to then go on a magnificent run of 12 games unbeaten, 11 of them wins and the last ten of those games creating a club record of ten successive clean sheets. This was the run which took them to the league title, clinched on a never to be forgotten night at Harrogate Railway Athletic, where Niall Cummins wrote himself into Curzon folklore with a stoppage time header to seal a 1-0 win, and the title, with five games to spare.

Season 2014-2015 saw Curzon compete at their highest ever level of the Evo-Stik NPL Premier Division, and they confounded the odds when the squad, which had seen very little change in terms of personnel from the previous season, reached the play-offs and, on another never to be forgotten day, beat Ilkeston 1-0 in the final after knocking out our neighbours Ashton United in a penalty shootout in the semi-final.

The win meant that Curzon would take another step up the non-league ladder with promotion to the Vanarama National League North, and successive promotions for the only the second time in their history to put them at their highest ever level in the football pyramid.

Season 2015-2016, Curzon Ashton FC finished in eleventh place in the Vanarama National League North. This achievement was the highest the club has ever achieved.

The Key Man:

Teenage winger Oliver Crankshaw joined the Nash in the summer from Colne after impressing with his pace and eye for a goal. Started his career with Preston North End before spells with Ramsbottom and Clitheroe.

He has four goals so far in the Vanarama National League North.

Spartans Team News and Milestones:

Adam Wrightson and Jarrett Rivers will both be hoping to recover from illness after last weekend’s trip to Brackley Town.

Robert Dale is three goals away from 200 for Blyth Spartans.

Damen Mullen is now four games away from 200 for Blyth Spartans.

Peter Jameson and Sean Reid are the only two players to have played in all 20 games this season.

Posted by Stuart Dick