Blyth Spartans take on Premier League side Blackburn Rovers tonight at Croft Park, and if they can get through this tie, a possible trip to Sunderland awaits them in the 4th round.
Harry Dunn – Blyth Spartans manager will have the lads ready for tonight
And this tie has an additional local flavor, since Big San Allardyce, for Magpies manager is now manager of Blackburn, but the bad news for Blyth is that Sam seems to have steadied the Blackburn club since he took over a few games ago.
For those fans not familiar with the Northumberland geography, Blyth is a small coastal village about 14 miles north of Newcastle, and they have a rich history in local football.
And they have won the Northumberland Senior Cup a number of times, and they beat Newcastle University 3-1 (or was it 4-1?) at St. James Park in the Northumberland Senior Cup final back in April of 1968 - I know that because I played goalkeeper in that game for the University. The problem the University had for that game was that it was between terms and only the local lads were available.
Team new is that Blyth could give a debut to defender Alex White provided the paperwork for his move from Stranraer comes through in time today. Ged Dalton is still a doubt with a shin injury, and it’s touch and go whether Ged will be able to play. But Spartans will have striker Robert Dale back after his ban.
On the Blackburn side of things David Dunn and Roque Santa Cruz arte both out injured, Andre Ooijer and Ryan Nelsen are both banned, so Big San will need to call on some of his reserves for the game tonight, and that could give Blyth some hope.
Blackburn Rovers manager Sam Allardyce said today:
“As a manager you have to rotate your squad and this is an ideal situation to do that.”
“It’s against a team that play non-league football and we’re a group of professionals in the Premier League so we should have enough to beat them.”
“But that’s down to good preparation and a positive attitude on the night.”
But Sam will know that he will have a challenge tonight and there’s already been some big upsets with the biggest being Nottingham Forest going to Eastlands and beating Man City 3-0.
And yesterday Aston Villa and Martin O’Neil werre only too pleased to get away at Gillingham with a 2-1 win – thanks to goals from former Newcastle winger James Milner, who looked the best player on the field.
We thought O’Neil was going to have a heart attack during that game he kept getting so upset – with everything. Maybe he needs to call up Graeme Souness and ask the Scot what pills he took while he was manager at Newcastle that kept him calm on the sidelines, by his own admission.
And the Manchester United win at Southamption was with thanks to referee Mike Riley, who gave a thinly disguised display, with a bias in favor of The Red Devils.
Mike sent off a Southampton player in the first half for a wild lunge, which was more inexperience than anything else, and he gave The Reds a very dubious penalty, when he adjudged that David McGoldrick handled the ball from a free kick when the TV replays showed the ball hit the youngsters in the back of the head.
And Manchester’s first goal was clearly offside, but when you are European Champions you expect this from some referees, especially when playing against inferior teams – but it was a travesty for the youngsters of Southampton yesterday.
Back to Blyth, and the game will be televised tonight live around the world, and is being shown live over here in the US, on Fox Soccer Channel – so we’ll be watching with bated breath.
Wouldn’t it be great if Blyth could get through and then beat Sunderland at The Stadium f Light in the 4th round.
Remember – anything is possible in the FA Cup – because that’s been proved again and again over the years.
Best of luck to Blyth Spartans tonight.