Blyth Spartans are already ahead of schedule in their five-year plan according to manager Tom Wade and an FA Trophy run is next on their priority list.
Blyth are top of the Evo-Stik Northern Premier Division, having lost just one of their last nine league games, and now gear up for an FA Trophy second qualifying round clash with Whitby Town on Saturday.
The Spartans’ success this term has been predicated on a talented young squad, with a smattering of high-class, experienced players.
Blyth Spartans v Whitby Town
Second round qualifying
3pm, Saturday 14 November
Winners receive £3,250 from The FA Prize Fund
But despite downing Kendal 4-0 in the first qualifying round, and sitting 20 places above Whitby in the league, Wade is adamant his troops won’t be underestimating their opponents.
“It’s a home tie, which we should be favourites for, but I know Darren Williams well – he’s a good manager and they’ve got some good players there,” said Wade.
“In our league, anybody can beat anybody and if they come with more hunger than us, they could beat us.
“You always like to have a good run in the Trophy because it’s like our FA Cup – it’s our tournament for non-league players.
“If you can get past the first couple of rounds, you’re well in the tournament, so it’s a huge competition for us which brings good revenue as well.
“We had a five-year plan when we took over at Blyth and this is our third season at the club. We’re just trying to build momentum up season by season.
“We thought we’d be fighting for the league in the fifth season but we’re doing exceptionally well this year.
“Getting into the play-offs would be a fantastic achievement and having an FA Trophy run would make it even better.”
“Blyth is a tough draw, especially away from home, but it’s one where we’re confident we can go there and do the job”
Darren Williams Whitby Town manager
Blyth have already beaten Whitby twice this term – 2-0 away from home and 3-2 at Croft Park, where Saturday’s tie will be held.
The Seasiders’ slew of defensive injuries this season have contributed to their lowly league position of 21st although manager Williams is hoping a Trophy triumph can help kick-start a turnaround.
And despite their underdog status this weekend, Williams – who made 200 appearances for Sunderland as a player – insists his side will enter the contest full of belief.
“We’ve accumulated a lot of defensive injuries which has affected us massively,” he said. “Some of the performances have been very, very good but the results haven’t always matched up to it.
“Blyth is a tough draw, especially away from home, but it’s one where we’re confident we can go there and do the job.
“There’s a genuine belief we can get a result. If we were approaching the game thinking we can’t get a win that would be the wrong mindset.
“We capable of doing it and in the two games against Blyth so far, we didn’t play too badly. It’s nice to have a distraction from the league and it’s a big game for the club.”