Blyth Spartans take a break from National League North action when they welcome local neighbours Morpeth Town in the second round of the FA Trophy.
The winner of the tie will welcome Callum Roberts’ Notts County to Northumberland this Saturday.
Kieran Charlton and Liam Agnew both returned to the matchday squad at the weekend – with the latter playing the final half-hour in the 2-1 defeat at Brackley. It was a small boost in what is already a lengthy injury list for Blyth boss Michael Nelson, who himself has an ankle issue.
Managed by Spartans cult hero Stephen Turnbull, the Highwaymen have not played a league match since November 3rd due to the second UK lockdown and its fallout.
Baring in mind the enforced break, Morpeth sit 16th in the Northern Premier League Premier Division with nine points from their opening seven matches.
They did however return to competitive action last week via the FA Trophy, beating Runcorn Linnets on penalties to set up a second round tie at Croft Park.
WHAT WE’RE SAYING
Matthew Elsdon called for Blyth to build on the positives during Saturday’s narrow 2-1 defeat at Brackley Town.
He said: “We just need to keep improving. We’ve got lads to come back from injury.
“It’s hard with lads coming in after not playing for a few weeks. But once we get everything back fit and get our best starting XI out, I think we’ll be fine.
”Nelson added: “I believe the players are getting better. I believe we were in the game more than we have been recently against a good Brackley side but we need to be better.
“The lads know that, so we’ve got to keep going and work hard. The group must stay together and be united.”
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Turnbull said after Morpeth’s first round win at Runcorn Linnets last week: “I’m delighted to go through.“First-half, I thought we were good. Second-half, we weren’t so good but it’s difficult when you’ve had a month off.”
He added: “I’ve come in at the end of the game and had a bit of a go but in hindsight, I’ve probably been a bit too critical.
“It’s tough for the lads. We had the longest pre-season in history then we play four weeks then we have two weeks off, then we played for two weeks and have another break.
“Fair play to them. At the end of the day, we wanted to come here and get into the next round and that is what we’ve done.”
LAST TIME WE MET
Blyth hosted Morpeth in pre-season, with the visitors winning 3-2.
The Highwaymen raced into a three-goal lead with a brace from Jack Foalle and a strike from Carl Finnigan before goals from Olly Scott and Panos Katsamagkas threatened a comeback for Spartans.
Blyth Spartans: Pearson, Evans, Charlton, Heslop, Thackray, Nelson, Dale, Trialist, Panos, McKeown, Scott. Subs used: Trialist, Trialist, Trialist, Trialist, Dart, Guy.
Goals: Scott (36), Panos (39).
Morpeth Town: Lowson; Williams, Turner, Sayer, Hutchinson, Reid, Foalle, Oliver, Finnigan, Noble, Johnson. Subs used: Phillips, Hodgson, Forster, Trialist.
Goals: Finnigan (10), Foalle (16, 19).
Issue #7 of our digital matchday programme SPARTANS is available to purchase now!
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- The gaffer’s pre-match thoughts
- What happened on this day
- Spartans All Around the World
- Talking points
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