BY Stephen Burton
Blyth Spartans face a long trek to Brackley Town on Saturday as Michael Nelson’s side will be hoping to end a run of four straight defeats.
It’ll be another tough test for Spartans, who for the second match in a row, face a side from last season’s top seven.
And, for the second consecutive Saturday, Blyth will play in front of a crowd.
Nelson will again be without a number of first-team players due to injury, with matters made even worse on Tuesday as the gaffer himself was forced off midway through the first half.
But the backline should be boosted by the expected return of centre-half Aaron Cunningham. Liam Agnew could make the bench.
Play-off hopefuls Brackley Town have had a slow start to the season as they currently sit in 13th place in National League North.
However they do look to have turned a corner as Tuesday evening saw them secure back-to-back wins for the first time this season with Matt Lowe’s 90th minute winner securing Kevin Wilkin’s side all three points at home to Spennymoor.
WHAT WE’RE SAYING
Despite the defeat 1-0 defeat to Boston United on Tuesday, Nelson was full of belief in his young Spartans side, “We’ve got a lot youth in the side. If you look at their bench they’ve got lads with hundreds of games under their belt.
“Our young lads will learn from playing against players like that. We expect them to go away and analyse and be better next week and that’s the challenge we’ve put to them.”
The gaffer also praised Jamie Clark’s performance, “It was a great chance for Jamie (to make it 1-1), he carved out a chance for himself on Saturday as well and the keeper made a save. We probably had to bring him in a little earlier than we wanted to due to injuries, but I’m pleased that we’ve been able to and he’ll learn from the experience.”
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Goalscorer Lowe was in confident mood after Tuesday’s win and believed he and his side were getting back into form.
“I think it’s been a pretty frustrating season for all of us, and I think everyone has got to hold their hands up.
“Me, myself, I haven’t performed to the levels that I have over the last couple of seasons. But there’s no point hiding behind excuses, I know the levels that I can perform to and luckily I managed to do that tonight.”
“I was disappointed not to start on Saturday (3-1 win away at Guiseley), but I came on second half and think I changed the game and luckily I got the winner tonight.”
LAST TIME WE MET
Spartans’ last trip to St James Park was Nelson’s first match in charge at the club as interim boss, as a brave first-half performance saw them lead 1-0 at the interval. However, the promotion-chasers piled on the pressure second-half, eventually running out 5-2 winners.
Brackley Town: Lewis, Myles, Franklin, Byrne, Audel, Dean, Lowe, Murombedzi (Maye 82), Ndlovu, Holman (Armson 67), York (Daire 87). Subs not used: Langmead, Smith.
Goals: Ndlovu (48, 77), Lowe (52, 68), Byrne (79).
Blyth Spartans: Hemmings, Evans, Thackray, Hunter, Cunningham, Hawkins, Wrightson (Dale 65), Waddington, Harmison (McKeown 79), McIntosh, Scott (Callaghan 83). Subs not used: Mullen, Summerly.
Goals: McIntosh (29), Wrightson (58).
Referee: Dale Baines
There will be no Blyth Live at St James Park, however our hosts have announced they are live streaming the game.