BY Stephen Burton
Blyth Spartans face a tough test on Saturday as they face Northern Premier League side South Shields at 1st Cloud Arena.
Spartans’ last outing saw then slip to a narrow 3-2 defeat against Morpeth Town, in an entertaining game at Croft Park.
The visitors surged to a three goal lead within 20 minutes, but despite goals from Olly Scott and Panos, Spartans couldn’t quite complete the comeback.
South Shields will no doubt provide a stern test for Michael Nelson’s side, with the Mariners fresh from a 4-1 demolition of Marske United.
Matthew Elsdon’s knee injury is still being assessed, however there are no fresh injury concerns after Tuesday’s game.
Brendan Pearson will line up in between the Spartans sticks after putting pen to paper on a deal at Croft Park on Friday afternoon.
Once again, trialists are expected to feature.
This will be the Mariners’ sixth outing in pre-season, with their victory over Marske United last Saturday their second in succession.
Last Saturday’s match saw a brace from new signing Alex Kempster, as well as strikes from Josh Gillies and Jason Gilchrist after a goalless first half.
They’ve also beaten West Auckland and Boldon CA, while suffering defeats to Hebburn Town (0-1) and Stockton Town (4-1).
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Speaking after the Marske match, joint-manager Lee Picton said: “It’s good to get that winning feeling back.
“We’ve got some really tough tests during the next three weeks, all against sides that are a higher level than us in the pyramid. We need to ramp things up and we’re looking forward to seeing how people react to the challenge.”
WHAT WE’RE SAYING
Despite the defeat against Morpeth, boss Nelson took plenty of positives from Tuesday’s game.
He said: “We had a really poor 15 minutes and they went three up and we could’ve folded, but credit to the lads we didn’t.
“Once we rode that period out and we had a good five minutes and started playing a bit more you could see the lads grow in confidence and I think we could’ve got something out of the game.”
“I said to the lads before the game, I wasn’t too down after the Hebburn result. There were some really good parts to the game, and we took that into the game against Dunston where we stepped up, then tonight we stepped up again.”
“They’re taking things on board, been very receptive and I’m just full of praise for what they’ve done. But they’ve just got to keep going, they’ve got to strive to be better every game they play.”
LAST TIME WE MET
The last match between the two sides was a pre-season friendly in July 2018 in a 2-2 draw at Mariners Park with Dan Maguire and Michael Liddle on target for Spartans.
If you’re unable to attend, South Shields are providing a live stream.
It’s £2 to watch and you can sign up for the match now at the link below
We’ll be providing Twitter commentary, plus our usual post-match reaction.