Spartans prepare for their big FA Cup clash with Wrexham

Action from Blyth Spartans v Banbury at Croft Park on Saturday.Action from Blyth Spartans v Banbury at Croft Park on Saturday.
Action from Blyth Spartans v Banbury at Croft Park on Saturday.
Blyth Spartans warmed up for their glamour home tie against Wrexham in the FA Cup with a 1-1 draw against Banbury at Croft Park on Saturday.

Manager Graham Fenton is relishing the prospect of playing ‘a big club’ in what is sure to be a red letter day for his players and he says they will ‘give it their all.’

The fourth qualifying round tie is certain to attract a bumper crowd to the Northumberland ground.

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"I’m looking forward to the buiuld-up and to the two training sessions we will have,” said Fenton.

"We are struggling a little bit for numbers, but hopefully we will have one or two players back to give the squad a boost.

"If we are going to get any sort of result against them we are going to have to play well.

"We are also going to have to be aggressive, because they are a good side and if we turn up like we did in the first half against Banbury on Saturday it is probably goping to be a walk-over, so we have a choice to make, which team wants to turn up, the first half team or the second half team.”

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Fenton, who has plenty of experience in the competition, says the players should not need to be lifted for the game.

"There is a lot of history to the competition and it is going to be on TV, but this is the FA Cup and we all know that on the day anything can happen.

"Yes, they are a good side and they are doing well, and yes we are going to need some luck, but you just never know if it is going to be your day.”

Against Banbury, Fenton said his players were ‘aweful’ in the first half.

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The visitors controlled the opening 45 and created a number of chances, with two efforts drifting wide before Alex Mitchell pulled off a good save to deny Josh Smile.

Blyth managed to get to half-time still on level terms, but after the break they upped their game.

An early penalty claim was turned aside by the referee, but on 51 minutes they managed to break the deadlock when Michael Richardson netted after latching onto a through ball from JJ O’Donnell.

Spartans created a copuple of half chances as they wenmt in search of a second, but on 68 minutes they had the rug pulled from underneath them when the visitors were awarded a penalty and Giorgio Rasulo converted from the spot to get Banbury back on level terms.

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After the game Fenton said: “I think that first half performance was as bad as any since we came in. We were not aggressive enough and we kept giving the ball away.

"They are a decent side and they exploited our weaknesses, but after the break we were much better, although ultimately, after going ahead, we have conceded a penalty which has cost us another two points.”

JJ O’Donnell added: “We were nowhere good enough in the first half, but fait=r play to Banbury because they passed the ball around well and caused us a few problems.

"We were a lot better in the second half, and after the first half performance a draw was probably a fair result overall, but we still feel a bit disappointed at not going on to win the game.”