Preview | Kettering Town (A) | National League North

BY Stephen Burton

Blyth Spartans face a trip to Kettering Town on Saturday as Michael Nelson’s side hope to bounce back from Wednesday’s defeat to York City.

Spartans were made to rue their missed chances in the first-half against the Minstermen, who ran out 3-0 winners at Croft Park. 

Just three points separate Blyth, who are looking to avoid a third straight defeat, and The Poppies in the National League North table.

The clash at Latimer Park will be a landmark moment for the hosts, as they welcome supporters back for the first time since March. 

INJURY NEWS

Spartans are sweating over the fitness of Connor Thomson and Paul Blackett after the pair limped off in the second-half against York City.

Liam Agnew is edging closer to fitness, as are Kris Thackray and Panos Katsamagkas. 

Kieran Charlton remains a few weeks away as he recovers from a hamstring injury. 

THE OPPOSITION 

Kettering are unbeaten in their last three matches after capitalising on draws with Guiseley and Hereford to shock Kidderminster Harriers on Tuesday with a 2-0 victory. 

Harriers went into the match in 2nd place, but were put to the sword by second-half goals from Luke Graham and Connor Kennedy.

Their manager, Paul Cox, is someone who has managed higher up the pyramid with Mansfield Town, Torquay United, Barrow and Guiseley. 

Form (last eight matches): WDDLLLWL 

WHAT WE’RE SAYING

Spartans captain Simon Heslop has called on his teammates to respond from the defeat to York against Kettering. 

He said: “There’s not a lot we can do about it now, it’s gone. We need to prepare for Saturday and get three points.

“The only thing we can do is dust ourselves down and go again. 

“We haven’t got too much time to reflect on the defeat, which is maybe a good thing. 

“We’ve got a tough game on Saturday away at Kettering. They’re around us in the league so it is going to be a battle, a one we need to come out on top in.”

Nelson told BSAFCTV: “We weren’t ruthless enough in front of goal, we had a great chance in the first half to make it 1-1, they had one chance and took theirs.

“There were some pleasing bits such as when we played it out from the back. We got joy building from the back and getting into good areas, but too many times we were sloppy in the goals we conceded.”

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Speaking after his side’s win against Kidderminster, Cox said: “We came up against a side that no one had beaten this season. 

“I thought out of possession we kept our shape brilliantly. I can’t give enough credit to the boys.”

He added: “The centre backs were awesome tonight, but we need to be consistent. We have to enjoy tonight, and I’m hoping that will instil some belief that we can go toe to toe with anyone.”

LAST TIME WE MET

With two goals from Callum Roberts and a 3-0 half-time lead, Spartans looked set for a comfortable win last time out at Latimer Park.

But that’s not quite how it turned out. Five second-half goals, including a last-minute Kettering leveller, completed a dramatic comeback for the hosts, with the game finishing in a 4-4 draw.

Roberts did go on to claim his hat-trick, with a solo effort Lionel Messi would have been proud of. 

LIVE STREAM 

Despite a maximum of 710 spectators allowed in Latimer Park, Kettering have confirmed they will still live stream the game at a cost of £10.

The Poppies use the same streaming provider as Blyth – Insight4and full details on how to purchase your streaming pass can be found here. 

Due to government restrictions i.e Tier 3, Blyth fans should not, under any circumstances, travel and attempt to gain entry into the game.

Posted by Jordan Cronin