After last Saturday’s spectacular win against National League side Sutton United in the FA Trophy to set up a quarter-final tie at Stockport County on 24 February and Tuesday night’s win at Peterborough Sports to book a Hillier Senior Cup Final place at Sixfields on 10 April against Kettering, Saints are back in National League North action at the weekend.
Unsurprisingly this will be Brackley Town's first ever foray to Northumberland and to Blyth's Croft Park stadium. The journey to Workington was further but Saturday’s 500 mile round trip to Blyth Spartans comes close! If you are planning to travel take care to check a possible postponement – these have been known in Blyth in February!
A run of three league games sees nine vital points at stake as the pursuit of table toppers Salford City hots up. Bradford Park Avenue’s win on Monday edged Blyth out of the top spots but Spartans are right in the mix for the play-off places. When they came to SJP in October Brackley won 3-1 with goals from Shane Byrne and Aaron Williams (two).
Blyth won the Northern Premier League last season with 101 points and have carried that form into this campaign although recent form has dipped with just one win in the last seven games.
Brackley’s form has been strong with one defeat in 19 games but league form has included too many draws.
Speaking after Saturday’s FA Trophy win, Kevin Wilkin was full of praise for his players. “We defended very well and had good intensity,” he said. “These are intense matches and it’s what we want of course, to be involved in big games that matter. Fitness levels are high. The lads look after themselves, they are disciplined and have a great attitude.”
Wilkin singled out striker Lee Ndlovu. “I am delighted for Lee to get his goal,” he said. “He was excellent today. Lee does a lot of work that perhaps goes unnoticed by some but again today he has run himself into the ground for the team.”
After the trip to Blyth comes the re-arranged home fixture on Tuesday when North Ferriby are the visitors to SJP with a 7.45pm kick-off and then Darlington are next up on Saturday in another home game.
If you cannot get to Saturday’s game follow the action via Twitter on the club website.