Southport (16/03/2024) – PREVIEW/SUPPORTER INFO

Following yet another defeat on Tuesday night, Spartans travel to fellow strugglers Southport on Saturday in desperate need of a win to turn the tide and secure our future in the National League North.

The Opposition

Wey I say Southport are struggling, they’ve just won 3 on the bounce after beating Warrington Town 3-0, Banbury United 1-0 and play off chasing AFC Chester City 1-0 on Tuesday night. Goalkeeper Chris Renshaw has kept 5 clean sheets in his last 6 games as Southport have pulled themselves out of the drop zone in recent weeks.

3 time National League North winning manager Liam Watson started the season in charge having been at the club since 2018, though his 3rd spell as ‘Port manager really unravelled towards the end of last season, as he ended his time in charge of the club with just a 33.81% win rate during his 3rd reign as manager.

He would be replaced by former Morecambe, AFC Fylde and Rochdale manager Jim Bentley – who has been able to resurrect the teams form in recent weeks and guide them away from the relegation zone.

Southport have a number of threats we should probably be concerned about, the most well known probably being Danny Lloyd. The former Peterborough United and Salford City man is capable of playing literally anywhere in the final 3rd of the pitch, and is probably best off being deployed on the Right Wing where he can use his flair, ball control, dribbling and all round skill to cut in on his left foot and cause problems. Despite being 32 years old now, he’s still a grafter. So Evans should really have his work cut out for him tomorrow.

Striker Marcus Carver is also a well known threat. The former Chorley striker has netted 11 goals across his 34 league games this season, and I’ve ne doubt he’ll cause us a headache tomorrow should he start. Carver is a pure grafter, who’s good in the air, has a decent first touch and is obviously a natural finisher. Up top he could be accompanied by Jordan Archer, who’s just worked his way back from injury after 10 months on the sidelines. Having been out for nearly a year he’s likely lost a yard of pace, I suspect he’s still got enough about him to cause us all sorts of problems. A quick and hard working player (notice the pattern here) who can certainly chip in with goals, he’s another big problem for us.

Richie Bennett is the opposite of the previously mentioned, though he’s the sort of player that’s caused our defence all sorts of problems all season long. at 6’4 and now 33 years old, Bennett couldn’t outrun Pieface after 9 cans however, the bloke is a fucking brute. Aggressive, strong and dominate in the air, he’s been on the scoresheet a fair bit of late and I fear we’ll struggle with him. Recently they’ve also added Danny Philliskirk on loan from AFC Fylde, who can be a dominate central midfielder on his day. A brilliant passer of the ball who can unlock just about any defence with is range of passing, Danny should probably still be playing in the National League.

There’s probably an argument for dominating midfield David Morgan being Southport’s best player these days. A pure box-to-box midfielder who’s capable of doing it all, Morgan re-joined Southport at the start of the season having left the club in 2021 to join then League One Accrington Stanley. A brilliant technical player who grafts all day long, he’s not bad from free kicks either. At the back the main obstacle for Blyth will be Jack Doyle. The full back can definitely hoy a challenge in, and can burst forward to join in with the attack. He’s also got a canny long throw on him as well.

Blyth Team News

Sadly it sounds like Oli Thompson won’t make it back in time for tomorrow just yet, as he’s out with an ankle injury. Apart from the obvious injury to JJ O’Donnell, the only other known injury is to centre mid Harry Arnison. I doubt JJ Hooper will be in from the start due to his ongoing hamstring issue. Sadly I don’t have an update on Jordan Cook who went off with an injury on Tuesday night.

It’s difficult to predict a line-up ahead of tomorrow. Southport are in good form, have a lot of attacking threats and will know that we’re far more desperate for the points than they are at the moment.

Setting up with a back 5 against these wouldn’t be the end of the world, so long as we play like we did in the final 10 minutes on Tuesday night, with some quick passing, more movement into space and a bit more aggression. We’ll stand a chance of getting something against these tomorrow if we come out playing those intensity levels for insure.

Personally I’d like to see Jordan Hickey back in the side tomorrow. For me we really miss his combative nature, and his all round “Fuck you and your knee, that ball is mine” attitude.

Fan Info

Like previous years, we’ll be segregated in uncovered George Roberts Terrace on the East side of the ground. Southport usually sell pints on the terraces, and are known for having good bait vans so we should be sound there.

As for match tickets, you can purchase them here. Please note though you’ll have to select tickets in the away end, which is just down on that website as Terrace (AWAY FANS) as below.

We’ll be allowed in the clubhouse before the game, or the ‘1881 Lounge’ as it’s now branded as. They have a range of stuff on tap, including Madri, Guinness, Staropramen, Carling, Coors, Carling Dark Fruits (ew), Aspall and Worthington’s. Think the Swansea vs Cardiff derby will be on beforehand as well, so that should give us something to laugh at.

Ground doesn’t have any proper parking, but you can just park on the side streets next to the ground.

Ref Watch

Saturday’s referee will be Declan Brown, who previously took charge of our game with AFC Chester City way back in December. I can’t remember him being all that shite really, but I’ve drank a lot since then.

Social media doesn’t seem to show any real shit fits involving him, though in his 13 NLN games this season he’s dished out 56 yellow cards and 3 reds, and 2 of those red cards came in each of his last 2 games. So clearly the lad is a bit card happy.

Betting Preview

Bookies are giving us zero chance tomorrow sadly. Given both teams form in recent weeks, I can understand why. With only 5 wins on the road this season, we have the 4th worst away record in the league. That being said though, Southport have the 3rd worst home record in the league, having only picked up 5 wins at home in 18 games.

I hope we can sneak a win, but really a draw would be an okay result given both sides form. It’s a tricky one to predict, but I’m going for a 2-1 Blyth win.

The Relegation Battle

Here’s a look at what the other teams in and round the drop zone are up to to tomorrow.

Alfreton TownVSBishop Stortford
Boston UnitedVSFarsley Celtic
DarlingtonVSPeterborough Sports
King’s Lynn TownVSRushall Olympic
Scunthorpe UnitedVSBanbury United