Preview | Darlington (H) | National League North | 21/22

By Stephen Burton

Blyth Spartans will look to continue their unbeaten home form on Saturday afternoon as North East rivals Darlington make the trip to Croft Park.

Michael Nelson’s side earned a hard-fought draw at home to second placed Brackley last weekend, adding to previous wins against Alfreton Town and AFC Telford United.

Spartans have amassed eight points from their opening five league games while Saturday’s visitors have lost all three of their matches so far.

THE OPPOSITION

Former Spartans boss Alun Armstrong has witnessed his Darlo side ship seven goals in their three games so far, although they have found the net in each time.

 Last time out, it was a 2-1 defeat at home to Bradford Park Avenue, despite the best efforts of Luke Charman, whose second-half goal threatened a comeback from the home side. 

Darlington’s squad will also feature a familiar face in Jarret Rivers.

The winger played for Spartans across two spells, most notably grabbing the winner for Blyth in their memorable FA Cup win against Hartlepool in 2014.

WHAT WE’RE SAYING

Nelson signed Dan Maguire, Sean Reid, Jordan Watson and Michael Liddle from Darlington in the summer, and he believes that could add an extra incentive.

“We’ve prepared as we do for any other game,” Nelson told BSAFCV.

“The lads who have joined us from Darlington might have a added incentive but the latest I expect, regardless of the opposition, is commitment and desire.”

On the crowds at Croft Park, Nelson added: “We want to make it a hard place to come, and having over a 1,000 fans there really helps.

“It’s fantastic to get them in, the lads really appreciate them spending their money and coming to support them.”

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Speaking to Darlington’s YouTube channel, Armstrong lamented his side’s defensive woes so far this season and was hopeful of some reinforcements ahead of the clash at Croft Park.

He said: “It’s the same old story. We keep trying to bring other people in, and we go to training and look to change it but you don’t get the right attitude from certain players. Yes they’re young lads, but they’ve got to grow up and they’ve got to learn.

“With the ball we’re great, but it’s defensively. We need a defensive leader, we need that voice. We’ve got to keep supporting them, keep helping them and working on the training pitch with them.”

LAST TIME WE MET

The clubs last met at Blackwell Meadows in December 2020 in what turned out to be Spartans final game of the 2020/21 season, as the Quakers ran out 6-0 winners.

Maguire, Watson, Liddle and Reid all turned out for Armstrong’s side that day, however this time around, they’re back in green and white.

You need to go back to October 2017 to find Spartans last win against Darlo, where goals from Adam Wrightson, Reid and Robbie Dale helped secure a 3-1 victory at Croft Park.

Last six: LLLLDL

MEDIA COVERAGE 

If you’re attending the game, be sure to pick up a copy of our matchday programme for just £2. 

If you can’t make it, Join Niall Bromley and Phil Castiaux on Blyth Live from 2:45pm. 

Alternatively, you follow the game via Twitter.

Posted by Jordan Cronin