Preview: Harriers v Blyth Spartans
January 3, 2020

Preview: Harriers v Blyth Spartans

Veteran defender Keith Lowe goes straight into the squad for tomorrow's crucial encounter with Blyth at Aggborough.

With two defenders - Ryan Johnson and Rhys Williams - missing through suspension Harriers have moved to bolster the squad by bringing back the experienced defender for his third spell with the club.  The 34-year-old made the last of his 123 appearances so far in the 2016-17 play-off encounter with Chorley.  Since leaving Aggborough he has played for Macclesfield, Nuneaton and most recently Bradford Park Avenue.  Also signing a contract today was Ethan Freemantle whose recent performances have earned him his first professional contract with the club that keeps him at Aggborough until the end of next season.

Coming into the defence with Lowe should be Harry Higginson while Ashley Chambers could return to the squad after injury although he is only likely to make the bench at best.  Declan Weeks is still missing through injury but should be back within a week or so.

Lowly Blyth are not having a great season; second from bottom and five points from safety they have just four wins all season and have lost five of the last seven.  Over the holiday period their form picked up a little with a win and a draw in the games against Gateshead.  They have made some changes to their squad this week; Lewis Ritson and Levi Amantchi have returned to their parent clubs after their loan spells ended, in their places have come Mark Waddington and Scott Wilson who have joined on loan from Barrow and Burnley respectively.  Both are available to feature at Aggborough.

Earlier in the season Alex Prosser's first goal for the club earned a point for Harriers as the sides drew 1-1 at Croft Park.  Overall Harriers have a good record in games between the clubs with four wins and two draws from the seven games played; all three games played at Aggborough have ended in Harriers victories.

I expect Harriers to line-up as follows (5-2-2-1): Mannion; Austin, Davidson, Lowe, Moyo, Higginson; Butterfield, Prosser; Hemmings, Shenton; Peniket.
Subs (from): Digie, Freemantle, Neligwa, Palmer, Scott, E. Williams.
Missing (injured): Weeks.
Missing (suspended): Johnson, R. Williams.
Missing (on-loan): Diau, Taylor-Randle, White.

Tomorrow's referee is Simeon Lucas from Blackburn.  This will be his second Harriers game as referee, the last was a 4-1 win at Altrincham in April 2017.

The weather forecast for kick-off time suggests that it will be partly cloudy with a 5% chance of rain and a temperature around 8°C.

Elsewhere the Under-23 side can close the gap at the top of the table when they entertain league-leading Rushall Olympic at the training ground in the morning, kick-off at 10:30.  On Sunday the Ladies return to action with a trip to Leamington, kick-off 2pm, with a chance to record their first league double of the season having won the first game 14-0.

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