By Stephen Burton
FA Cup action returns to Croft Park this Saturday as Blyth Spartans face FC United of Manchester in the Second Round Qualifying.
Early goals from JJ O’Donnell and Lewis McNall weren’t enough as Spartans had to make do with just a point at home to Darlington last weekend.
However, a big positive is Michael Nelson’s side have enjoyed a strong start so far this season and remain unbeaten at Croft Park.
In contrast FC United are yet to win on the road this season and currently sit in 12th place, one division below Blyth, in the Northern Premier League Premier Division.
- We ask that all supporters purchase their tickets in advance via our online system.
- If you do not have online access, you can purchase your ticket by ringing the club office on 01670 352373 and paying with a debit or credit card. Your ticket can then be collected from the social club on match day.
- We will operate a cash turnstile. However we strongly encourage you to purchase your ticket in advance.
- Tickets purchased in advance must be printed or stored on your phone. Without proof of ticket, you will not be permitted into Croft Park.
- Advanced tickets can be bought up until 2pm on a matchday.
- Should you wish to sit in the Port of Blyth Stand, you should purchase in advance.
FC United will be fresh from their 1-0 win in the league against Bamber Bridge on Tuesday night.
A late goal from Blackpool loanee Bradley Holmes secured a much-needed win against a side that had gone eight games unbeaten.
Neil Reynold’s men needed two attempts to get past Northern Premier League West side Bootle in the previous round in a dramatic pair of matches.
In the first tie, FC United threw away a two-goal lead away from home, as a last-minute equaliser earned Bootle a second chance.
However in the replay, it was FC United’s turn to mount a dramatic comeback, as they went into the 90th minute 2-1 down, before Matty Rain and Regan Linney struck in injury time to break Bootle hearts.
WHAT WE’RE SAYING
Speaking after the Darlington match, Nelson told BSAFCTV: “It was game of two halves really.
“I think we dominated the first half and were deservedly two goals up. But the goal just before half-time completely changes the game.
“It’s disappointing, but pleasing that we held on and didn’t lose the game. At the end of the day we’re probably happy with the point but you should never throw a two-goal lead away and the lads know that.
“No defeats at home yet, and the lads are really working hard to keep that going as long as we can.”
Vice-captain, O’Donnell also added; “At two-nil up you should go on and see a game out, but it could be a learning curve. You’ve got to try and learn to manage games a bit better but that comes with experience.
“If you’re not going to win it you need to make sure you don’t lose it, so we showed character in that aspect today.”
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
FC United boss Reynolds was delighted with his side’s win over a high-flying Bamber Bridge side.
He said: “We knew we were going to have our work cut out tonight, it was important to stay in the game and we knew we had options on the bench.
“They were hurting and smarting after the loss at the weekend, but they’re a fantastic group of individuals in that dressing room who want to play for this football club. They found out tonight, that by playing the right way, they get the joys and they get the success and I’m so happy for them.”
LAST TIME WE MET
The two sides last met in National League North in April 2019 when a last-minute winner from Adam Wrightson secured Blyth a 2-1 win away at Broadhurst Park.
The game effectively sealed Spartans’ play-off place and in the process, relegated their hosts that afternoon.
Blyth also won away the previous season, with Dan Maguire (twice) and Sean Reid scoring in a 3-1 win in September 2017.
Despite success on the road, Blyth are yet to register a home win against FC United in four attempts.
Last six meetings: WLDWDL
Niall Bromley and Phil Castiaux bring you Blyth Live coverage from 2:45pm.
Alternatively, live updates will be provided on Twitter.