Match Preview: Nantwich Town v Blyth Spartans

We preview the visit of Blyth Spartans to the Weaver Stadium.

The Dabbers return to the Weaver Stadium and face league leaders Blyth Spartans. With just 9 league games to go and Blyth holding a 10 point advantage over the Dabbers, a win for the home side here would potentially restart the title race, a race Blyth have been a one horse competitor in since the turn of the year. With attack the chief tactic of both teams and them both boasting excellent recent form, this promises to be a fascinating top of the table encounter. We preview the tie between the top 2 teams in the league:

Match Details

Nantwich Town v Blyth Spartans

Northern Premier League, Premier Division

The Weaver Stadium, Tuesday 21st March, 7:45pm kick off

Entry Prices: Adults £10, Concessions £7, Children FREE with a full paying adult

A look at the Opposition

The Manager – Alun Armstrong

The Spartans appointed Armstrong back in September after the resignation of previous manager Tom Wade. Armstrong has strong local connections to the North East, having grown up in Gateshead and learnt his trade in the Newcastle United academy. He enjoyed a 14 year playing career, turning out for Stockport County, Middlesborough and Ipswich Town amongst others. He hung up the boots in 2007 before moving into management.

He was coaching at Middlesborough when the opportunity arose to manage his boyhood team. He is now tasked with leading Blyth to promotion.

Recent History/Form 

Blyth, despite a brief sticky patch through September, have been around the promotion picture all season. Until the turn of the year, they hadn’t been top for more than 2 weeks. But since the start of 2017, Blyth have kicked into another gear. They won their first 11 league games of the new year to not only move into 1st, but to give themselves a massive advantage at the top.

Whilst their home form has remained excellent though, their away form of late has faltered. They lost to Spennymoor at the end of February and then saw a 2-0 lead disappear against Sutton Coldfield Town to lose 3-2. They did pick up a useful point away at Buxton, drawing 2-2 after going down 2-0. They come into this game without a win in their last 3 away matches, but with just 2 defeats in their last 16 league games. They will be the biggest test of the season for the Dabbers.

One To Watch – Danny Maguire

Maguire hails from the North East and joined his local team before the 2012/13 season. In 3 seasons with the Spartans he scored 66 goals in all competitions. That earned him a move to AFC Halifax Town in the summer of 2015, but work and travel commitments meant he returned before the start of the 15/16 season. Since he rejoined the Spartans, he has netted 40 more goals in all competitions. That takes his total to 106 in 4 1/2 years with the club, an incredible total.

His form this season has been particularly impressive, with him scoring 25 league goals, 18 of them since the turn of the year. He is in red hot form for Blyth at the moment.

Last meeting 

Blyth Spartans 2-0 Nantwich Town, Saturday 10th September 2016

The sides last met back 2 months ago on a chilly afternoon in the North East. The Dabbers had 3 good chances to go infront in the first half, but they were indebted to Dan Gyollai for keeping the scores level at half time. 2 free kicks after the break from Robbie Dale and Stephen Turnbull did give the hosts the lead and Turnbull could have added a third, but blazed over from the spot. It was a deserved win for Blyth.

View from the Dressing Room:

Phil Parkinson spoke about desire to see the Dabbers put on a better showing against the league leaders: “We were poor at Blyth(earlier in the season). I thought they were outstanding, particularly the front play. If our defenders aren’t at it, they will score, there is no shadow of a doubt in my mind. They’ve got that kind of prowess up top, but we have as well.

It’ll be a really interesting battle in that midfield and it’ll be a fascinating game because both teams like to play. It’s a game my players will relish, a few of them who’ve got bruised egos and a little bit of dented pride from that Blyth game where they let themselves down against their opposite numbers. I know because they are such winners and such competitors that they’ll really want to put that right on Tuesday.”

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