Alternative Preview – AFC Telford

Yet another early season 6 pointer is upon on us, as bottom of the league AFC Telford who have not won away from home in the league since November 2020 (beating Bradford Park Avenue 2-1 during that weird half covid season) make the trek up to Croft Park. In fact, they’ve only won away from home 3 times since the turn of the decade. Enter Blyth Spartans…

Blyth’s main problem at the moment is of course injuries. Like Hendy after a heavy weekend, we’re absolutely riddled at the moment. Hopefully though we might finally be moving away from our injury nightmare, as training on Thursday saw the return of a few. All round defender Alex Nicholson and midfielder Danny Barlow were supposedly ‘fully involved’ in training but I’d expect Nicholson is closer to a return. JJ O’Donnell limped off on Tuesday night but thankfully his injury isn’t as bad as first feared. Nathan Buddle was involved was doing some running but his return date is still up in the air due to the nature of his injury.

As for some much needed new faces, I expect the signing scarf will be active prior to Saturday’s game unless there’s an issue at the 11th hour. I’ll definitely get shouted at by Niall for saying that so if you’re reading Mr Bromley, soz not soz mate. Anyway, hopefully the new faces in the immediate future won’t stop with just these two.

As for AFC Telford, well.. they’re a bit shit aren’t they? Manager Paul Carden was sacked in early October after a 2-0 defeat to Peterborough Sports leaving them 2nd bottom of the National League North. They’d also been dumped out the FA Cup by Chasetown only a few weeks before so it was seen as a relief by many supporters when he was finally given the boot after just under a year in charge. Former Brackley Town manager Kevin WIlkin had been been in the stands for Telford’s last two home games prior to Carden’s sacking, so it’s fair to say he was very likely lined up for the job. Wilkin lead Brackley Town to FA Trophy glory in 2018 and regularly had them competing in the play off’s with a ‘fair bit’ of financial backing from ownership. It was a surprise to see them having a bit of a fire sale in the summer and with the team suffering a mixed start to the season, he left Brackley in September.

Since taking over he’s not been able to turn around The Buck’s fortunes just yet though, with Telford losing all three games under his tenure thus far, most recently getting thrashed by Darlington where former Spartan loanee Jack Lambert scored a hat-trick against Wilkin’s side in front of only 924, which for Telford is a terrible attendance.

Telford have only scored 11 goals in the league thus far, the worst in the league (followed by Blyth naturally) so Saturday has the potential to be a low scoring affair. Forward Brendon Daniels has 4 goals for Telford so far this season in 19 appearances, and appears to be one of only a few worth his money at the moment. Supposedly a left footed wizard and a danger with free kicks, he could be one to watch out for.

Nathan Blissett (nephew of Luther) was the big summer signing that so far hasn’t panned out. The 32 year old has spent most of his career bouncing between League Two and the National League but the forward has only registered one goal so far this season, that being in a 4-2 defeat to Chasetown in the FA Cup. Scouse midfielder Liam Nolan could prove to be a danger though. The box to box midfielder arrived from Fylde earlier this year after a spell with Accrington Stanley and was lauded as a ‘superb signing’ for the club this summer when he arrived, signing a 2 year deal. It won’t shock you to know Telford have the worst record when it comes to conceding goals (29) and that wasn’t helped on Tuesday night when new goalkeeper Louis Gray, who’d just arrived from Natnwich Town shipped 4 in against Darlington.

If you fancy taking a risk and backing Blyth to win a league game at Croft Park for the first time in 2 and a bit Months, William Hill seem to be offering the best odds on Spartans at the moment. Mind it doesn’t look like they expect that many goals in the game either.

As always the Clubhouse will be open from midday and we’ll have the Shy’s Pie’s on sale. Only ordered 70 this week so get down early to avoid disappoint and make Pieface work for his money! Honestly I’m praying the bloke never tries to unionise or we are fucked.

Given the teams form, some mixed performances of late and the current financial climate, I appreciate a day out at Spartans might not exactly be the easiest of sells unless you’re one of the hardcore. That being said, you know how vital your support is to this football club and how much of a buzz the players get when they see a big ground and hear the terraces roaring. As supporters, we choose to spend our (sometimes limited) money and valuable free time supporting the club, and I can promise you the players and manager appreciate that to no ends.

Hope to see as many of you there on Saturday as possible! Hopefully for a pint or 7 in the club as well.