In association with LV BET:
Blyth Spartans face local rivals Gateshead for the second time in seven days, hoping for a reaction from the 6-0 defeat to Darlington last time out.
Michael Nelson’s side held The Heed to a 2-2 draw at Croft Park on Boxing Day but the feel good factor from that result was swiftly banished 48 hours later at Blackwell Meadows.
There is no doubt Nelson will demand a response from his players against a Gateshead side who themselves suffered a 3-1 loss to Spennymoor Town on Monday.
JJ O’Donnell is ineligible to face his parent club. Paul Blackett, now back at the International Stadium after being recalled, won’t feature.
Dan Wilson could also make his first appearance for Blyth after signing on a month’s loan from North Shields.
Having previously played two games in 48 hours, it’s all about managing the fitness of the players as the busy festive period draws to a close.
Back-to-back home defeats to Kidderminster Harriers and Spennymoor, plus a draw at Blyth, means Gateshead have dropped out of the play-off places after three games without a win.
Before that, Mike Williamson’s men were on a five-game unbeaten run.
Four of The Heed’s five wins this season have come by just one goal, while four of their defeats have come via a 1-0 scoreline.
WHAT WE’RE SAYING
Speaking after Blyth’s hammering at Darlington, boss Michael Nelson said: “We’ve got to react. Hopefully we can put a performance in like we did on Boxing Day.
“They’re obviously deflated in there and rightly so. I’ve got to try and take the positives and try and build them up because they’re a young group.
“But there has to come a point where they realise it’s not good enough. I don’t expect them to go out and dominate games but I expect them to work harder than the other team.
“Too many times this season we haven’t done that. When we work hard, dig in and put a good performance in, we come out with something but that today was men against boys.”
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Like his managerial counterpart, Gateshead player manager Mike Williamson also wants a reaction after the 3-1 home loss to Spennymoor.
He told the club’s YouTube channel: “It’s three points to play for but in the grand scheme of things, it creates more importance.
“Not only is it a local derby but we need a massive reaction off the back of today.
“It’s just about buckling down and making sure we have to work harder and we have to find a way. “
LAST TIME WE MET
Robbie Dale’s spectacular late volley earned Blyth a 3-2 win at the International Stadium on Boxing Day 2019.
Callum Roberts and Kris Thackray put Spartans into the lead twice before being pegged back by Greg Olley and Connor Oliver.
But Dale’s stunning bit of magic on 85 minutes clinched a memorable victory for Blyth.
Gateshead: James, Nicholson, Forbes, Oliver (Deverdics 63’), Cooper, Williamson, Preston, Agnew, Kayode, Olley ©, O’Donnell (Tear 90’). Unused subs: Guthrie, Barrow, Nelson
Blyth Spartans: Hemming, Evans (Scott 63’), Hutchinson, Mullen, Sanders, Thackray, Hawkins, Hunter, Sweet (Wrightson 73’), Roberts (McGlade 76’), Dale ©. Unused subs: Devitt, Ritson
Referee: James Westgate
Attendance: 1,390 (213 away)
BLYTH LIVE / LIVE STREAM
Blyth Live will return for our trip to Tyneside, with live coverage getting underway from 2:50pm in the company of Niall Bromley and Phil Castiaux.
Alternatively, Gateshead are live streaming the game for a cost of £7.