PREVIEW: Hartlepool v Blyth Spartans
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]onight is a rarity.
Firstly, a rare trip for me to the Victoria Park ground in Hartlepool for the match of the day – and secondly a rare live football game on BBC2 on a Friday night !
Yes, the ‘magic of the Cup’ is very in evidence tonight for Hartlepool v Blyth Spartans.
It’s being billed as a ‘derby’ but RAC route finder has the two towns 41.78 miles apart so whether this is technically true is debatable. But enough pedantry.
In poker parlance the second round of the FA Cup is like getting past the ‘bubble’ stage in poker. That’s the point of the tournament where you can still leave with nothing. A place in the third-round hat can be priceless for the lower league teams with the possibility of a big name Premier League rival next.
The market has the two teams pretty level tonight which in itself is hard to ponder at first glance. There is, after all, two divisions between them and Hartlepool enjoy home advantage over their Evo-Stik North side rivals.
Drilling deeper down though and the current form would point more towards Blyth Spartans though who come here on the back of just two defeats from their last 11 away fixtures and face a Hartlepool side who are propping up League Two with a shocking goal difference of -20. So there might not be that much between them.
Hartlepool United v Blyth Spartans
FA Cup 2nd Round
7.55pm LIVE ON BBC2
Blyth Spartans are only part-timers.
Peter Jeffries (goalkeeper) is a scaffolder, Matty Wade (midfielder) makes oil platforms and Jarrett Rivers (winger) works in a newsagents. What was I saying about the magic of the cup.
The Spartans also have a decent record in the FA Cup and made the third round in the 2008/9 season before getting beaten, only 1-0, by Blackburn.
Again central to their hopes tonight will be forward Robbie Dale, who is a survivor from the heroics of 2008/9 and has also scored in every round so far this season.
I’m not sure Hartlepool will be looking forward to this too much because they have a lot to lose and Blyth everything to gain.
In terms of a bet I’m sticking with a draw at 100/30 with Star Sports and a return leg, some 41.78 miles away.