BY Liam O’Brien
Blyth Spartans are back in action for the first time since March – travelling to Hebburn Town in their opening game of pre-season on Tuesday (KO: 7:30PM).
Michael Nelson will take charge of his first match as permanent Spartans boss at the Green Energy Sports Ground following his solitary game as caretaker boss away at Brackley Town.
Nelson has endured an unprecedented start to his first managerial career but Tuesday’s trip to the Hornets will bring some sense of normality.
It will present the former Hartlepool United defender with an opportunity to cast an eye over trialists ahead of bolstering his squad in the coming weeks.
Kieran Charlton, Callum Guy, Matthew Elsdon, Panos Katsamagkas and Morgan Dart could make their first appearance in green and white colours.
Also hoping for minutes in the legs ahead of the new season are Robbie Dale, Rhys Evans, Kris Thackray, Olly Scott and Corey McKeown.
The game will provide selected trialists with the opportunity to impress Nelson after training with the club in recent weeks.
Hebburn sat in third place before the Northern League Division One season was suspended in March – but early results suggest they’ll be right up again.
Kevin Bolam’s men host Spartans in their final game of pre-season having won four out of five friendlies, beating South Shields, Heaton Stan, Jarrow and West Allotment Celtic.
What they’re saying
Speaking to the Shields Gazette last week, Bolam said: “It’s been a good pre-season; we have played some really good opposition and it’s helping us improve the off-the-ball stuff, which is something we identified needed improving.
“I want to improve on last season and one thing we identified is the off the ball stuff.
“We are doing that really well and we need to take it forwards.”
What We’re Saying
Defender Kris Thackray said: “I’m looking forward to Tuesday night.
“The squad is starting to grow. It’s a slow burner because of the circumstances but we’re getting some good talent and young, hungry players.
“I can’t wait to get the strip on – it’ll be even better with a crowd.
“It’s a good pitch – I’ve never played there before but it’ll be a good test for the boys and a chance to work on our fitness.”
Last Time We Met
Spartans faced Hebburn Town last pre-season and recorded a 2-1 victory.
Graeme Armstrong and Scott Fenwick both converted penalties with Tom Devitt scoring a late winner for Blyth.
Spectators are allowed at the game but please read the guidance on Hebburn Town’s website before travelling to South Tyneside.
Admission: Adult – £5.00, Concession – £3.00, Child U16 – FREE
We are aiming to live stream the game via BSAFCTV, though will update supporters closer to kick-off.