Curzon Ashton (29/03/2024) – PREVIEW/SUPPORTER INFO

For the 3rd season on the bounce Spartans are at home on Good Friday, this year to play off chasing Curzon Ashton who have never won at Croft Park. With the season about to draw to a close, this Easter weekend could more or less decide who’s safe and who’s really down in the shite.

The Opposition

For a smaller club, Curzon Ashton actually have a brilliant team. Their defensive record is one of the best in the league, and that’s partly doing to them having one of the best goalkeepers in the league in Cam Mason. He spent years at Curzon before ‘falling off’ a bit while at Southport and Guiseley, but he seems to have returned to form after re-joining Curzon in the summer. One of the best shot stoppers in the league and a great all round goalkeeper, Cam could be a nightmare to get past. Though he has been guilty of making the odd mistake at Croft Pak in the past…

Elsewhere in the team they have midfield playmaker Stefan Mols, who’s having one of the best seasons of his career so far. Originally from Andalusia in Spain, he came through at Blackburn Rovers before being released and linking up with Warrington Town for a few years. He joined Curzon last summer and has been taking the piss this season, grabbing a few assists and netting 7 goals thus far. A quick and technical player who can thread a ball, he’ll need Hickey’d.

He may be joined in midfield by 33 year old Adam Barton, though he has featured at centre back lately as well. Barton is a vastly experienced player, who’s played throughout the Football League and the SPL – he’ll be a ‘wise old head’ for them. Elsewhere in midfield, Rhys Hughes will be hard work. Capable of playing in the middle or on the right flank, Hughes is pacey, can use both feet, grafts his balls off and can smash a free kick apparently. Loanee Marcel Lewis could be a tricky player to put up with, though he hasn’t started that many games for them since joining. A former Chelsea youth player, he’s a quick and skilful winger who plays more as an inside forward.

Will Hayhurst is a well known player at this level, who can play just anywhere up the left flank. A good crosser of the ball who still maintains a fair bit of pace despite now being in his 30’s. Depending on the formation Curzon line up with – Will could be a handful. Up top they should have Jimmy Spencer, the now club captain who has played nearly 200 games in the Football League. Most of you will remember what Jimmy was like from his Farsley days – a pure target man who can really bully a defender.

Blyth Team news

Blyth’s injury list is almost as long as my knob, with several players picking up knocks in the last few games. Apart from the obvious in JJ O’Donnell who’s out indefinitely, both Harry Gardiner and Malakai Reeve were injured in last Saturday’s game away at Peterborough Sports, Michael Liddle was of course injured last week in the Buxton game – and Jordan Cook appeared to get a knock in the Southport game, and hasn’t been since since. That’s on top of Harry Arnison and Oli Thompson’s absences in recent weeks. No update yet on Joe Oliver’s status.

Today is deadline day of course, but at the time of writing – no incomings have been confirmed just yet. So with the aforementioned injuries in mind and not yet knowing the severity of some of them, predicting a starting XI at this stage is difficult. If all of the above are out, then we’ll likely line up like one of the below.

Fan Info

If you haven’t done so already, tickets for tomorrow’s game can be purchased here.

I believe a few tickets have been given out to local schools, with kids getting in for free and the accompanying adult going for a quid.

The Clubhouse will be open from 12pm as ever, but sadly I don’t think any live Sport will be on, so we’ll have to make do with Football Focus and Final Score.

While the club hasn’t confirmed it officially just yet, alcohol is once again being allowed in the ground tomorrow apparently.

The Supporters Club store will be open from 1:30pm until kick off, then again after the match. If you haven’t had the chance to already – you can head into to pre-order your 125th anniversary kit (if they still have stock in!) The new burger van should also be in it’s usual spot.

You can find further details of the football clubs ‘Good Friday Activities’ here.

Ref Watch

Tomorrow’s ref is Dane McCarrick of the North Riding FA. He previously covered our game at home to Peterborough Sports that ended in a 3-2 defeat. In his 5 National League North games thus far this season, he’s issued 18 yellow cards and 1 penalty. Looking online, he seems to have a history of making very basic mistakes – such as missing clear handballs and carding the wrong players for fouls.

Betting Preview

Despite our upturn in form and our record at home against these, the bookies favour the away side. I can see tomorrow being rather tight and nervy at times, as both teams have a lot to play for. If Spartans put together a decent team despite the pile up of injuries, I can envisage a 2-1 win Blyth win.