BY Stephen Burton
Blyth Spartans are back in National League North action this Saturday as they face a trip to the Deva Stadium to take on Chester FC.
Michael Nelson’s side won away to FC United of Manchester on Tuesday night in their FA Cup replay with a brace from Connor Thomson securing Blyth’s place in the Third Round Qualifying.
A visit to Guiseley awaits Spartans next weekend but first, it’s a return to the league as they travel to Chester.
Blyth supporters have been allocated seating in the West Stand.
Tickets are priced £17 adults / £12 concessions / £10 18-21 / £3 12-17 / Free Under 12s. These can be purchased through Chester’s online ticketing platform at chesterfc.ktckts.com.
Please note, there will be no cash turnstiles available on matchday and Chester strongly encourage supporters to buy tickets online in advance.
The ticket office will be open for sales on the day of the game, however they advise arriving earlier than normal to reduce queuing times.
Captain Nathan Buddle returned from injury in midweek – playing 35 second-half minutes after coming on a substitute for Nicky Deverdics.
Jordan Hickey and Dan Maguire were absent in Manchester and Deverdics was carrying a knock, meaning the return of Cameron Painter from suspension is a timely boost.
Chester have endured a slow start to the campaign, registering just one win and two draws in their opening six games in National League North, where they currently sit 16th.
However, despite their tough start, the Blues will be a tough test for Nelson’s men.
Under the guidance of joint-managers Bernard Morley and Anthony Johnson, they reached the play-offs in 2019/20 and sat in third place in the table before the league was curtailed last season.
They will also be buoyed by victory in an FA Cup replay of their own last Tuesday, as a late winner from James Hardy snatched a 1-0 win at home to Darlington.
WHAT WE’RE SAYING
Speaking with BSAFCTV after the game, Nelson was full of praise for his side, particularly Thomson who scored his first Blyth goals in the win.
He said: “The lads executed the gameplan perfectly. Probably the most pleasing thing was our shape and our discipline out of possession and keeping another clean sheet.
“We gave up a lot of possession, but I don’t think Alex Mitchell had a great deal to do. Credit to the lads for having a really good shape and work ethic.
“Credit to him (Thomson), he had a chance similar to tonight on Saturday that could’ve killed the game for us then, but he didn’t take it.
“For him to be in that same position and taking the chance, it’ll do his confidence the world of good. We had another couple of breakaways and could have scored a few more.”
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Chester co-manager Morely told the club’s media channel that he believed his side were turning a corner after their win against Darlington.
He said: “I feel that’s the Chester we know, that’s the squad we assembled. I think we played with a lot more confidence and now that’s two clean sheets on the bounce.
“We believe that the squad that we’ve got, everyone has had an opportunity.
“We need to start scoring more goals and be more clinical. We’re now keeping clean sheets so if we can add goals to that we know we’ve got a good side.
“Our league form has to improve and by doing that we have to beat Blyth on Saturday.”
LAST TIME WE MET
Due to the curtailment, the two sides never actually met last season. You have to go back to February 2020 for the previous meeting when Spartans fell to a 2-1 defeat at the Deva Stadium.
In the four clashes the sides have had in National League North, Chester have won twice – both at home – and Spartans once, with one draw.
However, the Blyth victory at Croft Park in August 2018 was a memorable one to say the least, as they ran riot in an 8-1 demolition with Dan Maguire (twice), Sean Reid and Nathan Buddle among the scorers that day.
Last four: LDLW
Join Craig Dobson and Phil Castiaux on Blyth Live from 2:45pm. Alternatively, you can follow Twitter for live updates.