In association with LV BET:
Blyth Spartans host local rivals Gateshead on Boxing Day – the first of a festive double-header between the two clubs.
Michael Nelson’s men also play their first match in 10 days having been forced to self-isolate for a third time this season last week.
Spartans will be without Paul Blackett and JJ O’Donnell, who are ineligible to play against their parent club.
Liam Agnew, Kieran Charlton, Aaron Cunningham and Connor Thomson are likely to be in contention, though Kris Thackray is touch and go.
Panos Katsamagkas, Olly Scott and Michael Nelson remain on the sidelines.
Mike Williamson’s Gateshead sit 7th in the National League North table and have developed a knack of grinding out results so far this season.
Four of The Heed’s five wins have come by just one goal, while their four defeats have been via a 1-0 scoreline.
Before their home defeat to Kidderminster Harriers in their previous league game, Williamson’s men were on a five-game unbeaten run.
Form (last six in NLN): DWWWDL
WHAT WE’RE SAYING
Blyth Spartans manager Michael Nelson said: “It is another game in terms of you get three points at the end of it if you win but you’ve got to let the players know what it means to the fans.
“We’ve got a lot of young lads who maybe haven’t played in local derbies but I’m sure they support clubs that make you understand what derbies are like.
“I’m sure the lads who have been involved in them and the staff as well – there is no one more passionate than Peter and Jeff to let the lads know exactly what it means.
“I’m sure they’ll be in the right frame of mind come kick-off on Boxing Day.”
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Gateshead manager Mike Williamson previewed the game via Gateshead’s YouTube channel and said: “When you come up against your rivals, the form book gets thrown out the window.
“It’s a derby game, there is more than just three points on the line, so it’s about controlling that emotion and playing the game.”
He added: “What we do know is he (Michael Nelson) is going to have a true insight because they’ve got some of our players from last season, who are very good players and we know they’ll be dangerous.
“We’ve got to make sure we’re switched onto that but he’s a good, young manager and he’ll know exactly how we work.
“He knows our general blueprint and how we want to play, so I’m fully expecting a game plan to try and nullify that and make it difficult for us.”
LAST TIME WE MET
A 93rd-minute equaliser from Levi Amantchi earned Blyth Spartans a late point in a game that saw four penalties awarded – including one saved by Zach Hemming.
Scott Barrow opened the scoring with a dubious penalty decision before seeing one brilliantly saved by Hemming with the scores tied at 2-2.
Jordan Preston had doubled the visitors’ advantage before the hour-mark but two spot-kicks from Callum Roberts in two minutes in the final 15 minutes Blyth back on level terms.
But the drama wasn’t finished there. Greg Olley thought he had won it on 90 minutes only for substitute Amantchi to dramatically level again deep into injury time.
Blyth Spartans: Hemming, Evans, Scott (Hutchinson 72), Mullen (Amantchi 63), Sanders, Thackray, Hunter, Hawkins, Sweet (Wrightson 72), Roberts, Dale. Subs not used: Devitt, Wrightson.
Gateshead: James, Nicholson, Forbes, Deverdics, Cooper, Williamson, Tear (Agnew, 72), Olley, Kayode, Preston, Barrow. Subs not used: Cranston, Guthrie, Oliver, Nelson.
Referee: John Matthews
Issue #8 of our digital matchday programme SPARTANS is available to purchase now.
For just £1, you can read:
- The gaffer’s pre-match thoughts
- What happened on this day
- Spartans All Around the World
- Talking points
- Plus much, much more!
It’s very easy to enter – supporters wishing to take part must do the following:
- Transfer £1 for each entry to the Club’s bank account. (Sort code: 30-95-76. Account No: 01912440)
- Enter 50/50 as the reference.
We will accept entries up to the referee’s half-time whistle.
The draw will be made at half-time and announced during the second half of the match. It will also be posted on our website and social media.
The cash prize will be made by bank transfer.
Thank you and good luck!
Streaming passes are priced at £8.
To watch, all you need to do is register with our streaming partner Insight4 – if you haven’t done so already – and purchase the game via the link below:
Our live coverage gets underway 15 minutes before kick-off, with commentary coming in the company of Blyth.