BY Stephen Burton
Blyth Spartans perhaps face their toughest test of pre-season as they welcome National League side Hartlepool United to Croft Park behind closed doors today.
Due to last weekend’s postponement, Spartans have gone 11 days without a game and no doubt boss Michael Nelson will be eager to see his side build their fitness for the upcoming season.
Pools go into the clash fresh – or perhaps not – from playing Morpeth Town on Friday evening following a 5-1 victory, less than 24 hours ahead of the game at Croft Park.
Saturday’s game will be a chance to welcome three new signings to Croft Park, goalkeeper Brendan Pearson, as well as former Blackburn Rovers youngster Connor Thomson and Gateshead loanee Paul Blackett.
Once again,trialists are likely to feature as Nelson looks to shape his squad before the new season.
This will be Hartlepool’s third outing in pre-season, having kicked off their schedule on August 31 with a 1-1 draw away to Newcastle United U23s.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Speaking after the match against Newcastle U23s, Pools boss Dave Challinor said: “It needs to be about more than just fitness. We spoke about bringing things forward into games that we’ll start working on in pre-season. We’re not very far into it but good habits are important and a winning mentality is important.”
WHAT WE’RE SAYING
After three signings within a week, Nelson is looking forward to seeing them in action. “All three of them are hungry to succeed.”
“The three of them have been challenged to come regulars in the team. They’ve got no given right to be that but if they play to their full capabilities then I’m sure they will.”
Goalkeeper Brendan Pearson was also full of praise for his new manager: “He’s been top class. I said I wanted to get back and enjoy my football and he’s been great with me and really built my confidence up.”
LAST TIME WE MET
It was of course that famous FA Cup night. A free-kick from Stephen Turnbull and a last-minute winner from Jarrett Rivers secured a memorable win for Spartans as they progressed to the third round at Pools’ expense.
We’ll be running a live stream at a cost of £5 (VAT included).
All you need to do is register with the Insight4 website and purchase the game via the following link below:
Home match days are the club’s biggest source of income throughout the season, which is something we have not had since February.
We hope you understand the service charge.