Our third day of promoting matches you can stroll along to this weekend takes us to England’s most beautiful county, Northumberland. Mark Carruthers from the non-league site and our partners, For The Love of Football, gives us some top tips for Saturday afternoon football fixes.
Following Tuesday’s home defeat to FC United of Manchester Saturday’s Non-League Day clash with Buxton is a big fixture for Blyth Spartans. The Croft Park club won’t have it all their own way though as the Derbyshire outfit did the league double over Tom Wade’s side last season.
For anyone who hasn’t been to Spartans recently there has been a bit of an overhaul. A horrendous season in the Blue Square North two years ago saw them relegated into the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League. Two months into 2012/13 season saw former Newcastle United midfielder Tommy Cassidy sacked as manager and he was replaced by Paddy Atkinson, who then departed the club in March 2013. Tom Wade took over initially as caretaker but after steadying the ship towards the end of the season he was given the job in a full time capacity.
The summer of 2013 saw the club opt to sign a number of promising young players, rather than tried and tested – and more expensive players – and this led to a hugely promising season as they fininshed in eighth place. Probably the star of the season was striker Dan Maguire who moved from Northern Alliance side Seaton Delaval and made a mockery of the four division step up by plundering twenty eight goals. Mainstay of Spartans Robbie Dale remains at the club and is one of the most entertaining wingers on the Non-League scene in the region and is capable of destroying a defence on his day.
There are connections with Newcastle with former Academy products Ben Sayer and Alex Nicholson turning out in the green and white this season. Sayer signed from Northern League side Team Northumbria and Nicholson joining from League One side Preston North End. Symmetry is the byword for Spartans season so far. They have played six games and have won two, drawn two and lost two and sit in mid-table although a win on Saturday would put them just behind the play offs. Managed by former Stockport County defender Martin MacIntosh the Bucks are a strong, physical outfit and have something of an Indian sign over Spartans winning three of the last four meetings between the two clubs. They are currently on a five match unbeaten run with their latest fixture seeing them inflict a 5-1 hammering on Grantham Town on Tuesday
For connections with the region, well there aren’t many to be honest although midfield Steve Istead did begin his career in Newcastle’s academy before turning out for Gateshead and Consett. In terms of players to watch striker Liam Hardy is on loan from from Harrogate Town and leads the scoring charts for the Bucks. Midfielder Derek Niven brings considerable Football League experience, spending most of his career with Chesterfield.
MATCH INFORMATION KICK OFF TIME: 3pm
GROUND ADDRESS: Croft Park, Plessey Road, Blyth, Northumberland, NE24 3JE TICKET PRICES: £10 adults, £5 concessions (Over 60 and Under 16)
LOCAL TRAIN STATION: Cramlington
LOCAL PUBS: Spartans Clubhouse(at Croft Park), The Masons Arms
OTHER NOTABLE FIXTURES: In Northern League Division Two Alnwick Town welcome one of the fancied clubs Seaham Red Star to St James Park, although somewhat surprisingly their visitors are languishing in sixteenth position and are four places behind the Northumberland outfit.
ELSEWHERE: NORTHERN ALLIANCE
Seaton Delaval v Hexham 2pm NE25 0QH
Shankhouse v Killingworth Station 2pm NE23 7HY
Shilbottle CW v Ponteland United 2pm NE66 2XH
Wallington v Cramlington United 2pm NE61 4EJ
Wideopen and District v Alnwick Town Reserves 2pm NE13 6LH
MARK CARRUTHERS, FOR THE LOVE OF FOOTBALL
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