Newcastle Benfield (13/07/2024) – PREVIEW/SUPPORTER INFO

84 days after that humiliating 5-1 defeat to Brackley Town that sealed our relegation to the Pitching In Northern Premier League Premier Division, a new look Blyth Spartans team under the guise of new manager Nolberto Solano will finally emerge from the tunnel at Croft Park this Saturday.

Newcastle Benfield come into this friendly looking a bit different to when they faced us in the Northumberland Senior Cup last season. Though after a 17th place finish in the Northern League’s top flight and racking up 23 league defats last season, it’s hardly a suprise.

Former Spartan Paul Brayson is still at helm. The former Blue Square North golden boot winner will has so far, reinforced his squad some experienced players this summer.

Former Whitby man Kyle Fryatt has joined Benfield after returning from Australia, as has former Spartan Callum Guy, who featured for us during the behind closed doors 2020/21 season.

Their big incoming this summer though has been Glen Hargrave, who arrives from Birtley Town. The winger/striker registered 12 goals and 5 assists across 44 games as Birtley narrowly missed out in the play offs last season. A quick and strong player, he’ll likely be a canny test for whoever we have at centre back.

Benfield have already played 3 pre-season friendly’s, losing 2-0 to NPL East side Heaton Stannington in the Jimmy Rowe Cup. They were then beaten 4-1 by Bedlington Terriers before taking on Ryton and Crawcrook, which was abandoned after 60 min’s due to rain – though Brayson’s side were 1-0 up at the time.

Given that this is Benfield’s 4th game, you’d have to expect Brayson’s aside to be a bit more organised and fresher in the opening exchanges.

Spartans Team News

It’s expected we’ll see debuts for Ryan Donaldson, Michael Woods and Lucas Reed this weekend – while Ben Milburn makes his second debut for the club, if that’s even a thing?

Since Croft Park last hosted a Spartans game, Jordan Hickey, Rhys Evans, Jack Bodenham, JJ Hooper, JJ O’Donnell, Elliot Forbes, Alex Mitchell, Harry Arnison, Rio Joisce, Michael Liddle, Oscar Hartley, Jordan Cook and Will McGowan have all left the club – along with Harry Gardiner, Olly Thompson, Finn Cousin-Dawson, Malakai Reeve and Luke James who’s loans have expired.

From the club’s room staff, Jon Shaw has off course left the club – along with Lewis Dickman and Ian Aitken.

At present Spartans have only 10 players signed up (or at least announced as signed up anyway) so you’d have to expect a lot of trialists and possibly even a few younger players will feature, which is the norm for the stage of pre-season.

Right now we don’t really know what to expect when it comes to trialists as they’ve had a few lads training with them already, but none of them appear to be stand out names. It’s likely we’ll see some more high profile trialists turn up on a matchday though.

By the time Saturday comes, we expect Spartans to have announced a few new signings. That being a mixture of transfers and loans.

As for a predicted XI? Your guess is as good as mine.

That being said, you’d expect new manager Nobby Solano to want to impress on his first outing as manager, even if it is just a pre-season friendly. So it’s likely we will see some attacking football on display with our best XI on the pitch, providing that they’re match fit.

Fan Info

As you may have seen online last week, the Spartans Clubhouse has a new selection of beer, cider and ale!

Out go Fosters, Carling, Strongbow and John Smith’s and income Mahou, Boddingtons, Orchard Pig, and Camden Hells and Goose Island IPA. Bottles of Cruzcampo are also now stocked as well and Guinness is now served from a proper tap!

At present we have no idea what the craic is with catering going forward, so we’d have assume that the burger van from last few months of the season will be returning?

In recent weeks the club store has apparently gotten a bit of a face lift, so I’d expect that to be open and I’d anticipate the new 125 anniversary shirt to be have been restocked.

Like previous years, the club store will be open between 1pm and 3pm – and then again after the match for 45 minutes.

As for the new Home and Away kits, the stock for them is set arrive this Saturday or early next week – so chances are they won’t be sold.

As for admission prices, they will be as follows.

Adults – £8
Concessions (over 65’s) – £4
11-16 Years & Students – £4

As in previous years, season ticket holders get in for free.

Like most pre-season games it’ll just be a pay in the gate job, as tickets aren’t sold online.