Buddle hoping for big crowd for Blyth Spartans’ biggest game in years’

Blyth Spartans' central defender Nathan Buddle. Picture by Bill Broadley
Blyth Spartans' central defender Nathan Buddle. Picture by Bill Broadley

Blyth Spartans defender Nathan Buddle has described his side’s crucial home fixture against Southport as “the club’s biggest game for years”.

Alun Armstrong’s men head into the game knowing that a win at Croft Park would see the club qualify for the National League North play-offs for the first time in their history.

Monday’s dramatic 2-1 win at FC United of Manchester saw Spartans leapfrog AFC Telford United and Bradford Park Avenue to move into sixth-place in the table.

Both of their play-off rivals face challenging away fixtures with Telford visiting Bootham Crescent to take on York City and Park Avenue heading to title contenders Chorley.

That makes Spartans favourites to secure a play-off place and Buddle is hopeful that his side will be roared on by a big crowd at Croft Park.

“It’s our biggest game for years, probably the biggest since the Birmingham City FA Cup tie in January 2015,” explained the Spartans defender.

“We have played in front of some big crowds at Croft Park and we will hopefully have the same on Saturday.

“It makes a big difference to the players and management when you hear the crowd getting behind us and I am sure that they can help make the difference against Southport.

“As a club, we have rarely been this high in the league and we have never reached the play-offs, so we can make a bit of history.

“It is in our hands and that is a nice position to be in, because last season we went into the last day needed a number of results to go our way to get into the play-offs.

“But, now we want to finish the job with a win, and we want to do it in front of a big crowd.”

Spartans head into the game in fine form and are unbeaten in their last nine games.

A new-found defensive solidity has helped provide the platform for a play-off challenge from the usually attack-minded Spartans.

The likes of top goalscorer Dan Maguire, wingers Jarrett Rivers and Robbie Dale and the in-form Kieran Green have teased and tormented National League North defences throughout the campaign.

But Spartans defenders and goalkeeper Peter Jameson have played their part keeping three clean sheets in their last five games – including a hard-earned shutout in the 1-0 win at title favourites Stockport County.

Buddle admitted that he is happy to see his defensive partners playing their part but believes that the likes of Maguire and Rivers will make the difference on Saturday.

“We have always been an attacking team, because that’s how the gaffer wants us to play,” said the centre-back.

“We are all performing to high standards and pushing each other on, we have all hit form at the right time.

“We love going forwards, but us lads at the back have been keeping it tight in recent weeks and I think there has been more a focus on getting the right results, rather than the performances being spot on.

“Saying that, we could have scored ten at FC United on Monday and we love entertaining.

“I am sure we can do both on Saturday and we know we have a number of match-winners that can help us get the right result.”

Kick-off on Saturday is at 3pm and tickets will be available on the gate priced at £12 adults, £7 for 65 years and above, £5 for children aged 11 to 16 and students with a valid ID and any children aged 10 and below can get in for free with a paying adult.