Bradford (Park Avenue) hit the ground running with a 1-0 win over Brackley Town and will be keen to establish themselves as one of the league’s pacemakers with another win this evening.
Alun Armstrong’s Blyth Spartans suffered a 3-0 defeat to Hereford on the opening day and will be desperate to prevent a gap opening up between themselves and their rivals in the play-off race.
Blyth were mauled on their last visit to the Horsfall Stadium, as goals from Wayne Brooksby, Oli Johnson, Jamie Spencer and Adam Boyes condemned the shocked Spartans to a heavy defeat. Tonight’s hosts did, however, strike back with a convincing win over Mark Bower’s side at Croft Park in February thanks to a Dale Hopson brace and a Jarrett Rivers strike.
Take a look at our brief guide to this evening’s opponents…
42-year old Alun Armstrong took charge of Blyth in September 2016 and guided the Spartans to the Northern Premier League title in his first-ever campaign in the dugout. As a player, he represented Bradford’s neighbours Bradford City during a brief loan spell in the 2003-2004 season, as well as featuring for Yorkshire sides Huddersfield Town and Doncaster Rovers on loan in 2000 and 2006. His most successful spells, however, were enjoyed outside of Yorkshire. The former forward made 160 appearances for Stockport County between 1994 and 1998 after ascending the youth ranks of Newcastle United, and found the back of the net on 49 occasions for the Hatters. He also represented Middlesbrough, Ipswich Town, Darlington and Rushden & Diamonds in a career spanning 14 years, before retiring after a very brief stint with Newcastle Blue Star. Armstrong famously scored the only goal during Ipswich’s 1-0 win over Inter Milan in a UEFA Cup first leg tie in 2001.
ONE TO WATCH:
Despite reaching the age of 34, Dale remains one of the biggest talents outside of league football. He made his 600th appearance for the Spartans on the opening day of the 2018/19 season, having netted a hat-trick on his debut against Wakefield & Emley in March 2005. The winger was named the Evo-Stik Premier Division Player of the Year in 2015 and turned down a contract with Oxford United as a 21-year-old. The Blyth stalwart was instrumental in both of the club’s recent FA Cup runs, featuring in the 3rd round in 2009 and 2015.
22-year-old forward Bradley Fewster joined Blyth in July and is a man with a point to prove. After progressing through Middlesbrough’s youth ranks, he made his professional debut in August 2014 and then scored on his second senior outing, against Preston North End. He found the back of the net on eight occasions for York City during a loan spell in the Minstermen’s 2015/16 League Two campaign but then struggled during a stint on loan at Hartlepool United. He was released by Boro in 2017 and spent last season with National League North side Spennymoor Town, where he failed to rediscover his goal-scoring form. A player who was prolific for England at under-19 level, Fewster will be keen to kickstart his career at Croft Park and could prove to be a canny addition if he finds form.
You can follow live coverage of this evening’s game via Twitter – @BPAFCOfficial.
Croft Park admission prices: