Town aim to send the giantkillers crashing

HARROGATE TOWN go head-to-head with former loan recruit and FA Cup hero Shaun Reay tonight – and are hoping it's a case of "After the Lord Mayor's show" for him and giant-killers Blyth Spartans.

Reay was the toast of Northumberland on Saturday, with his first-half double helping Spartans to a memorable 3-1 victory over League Two promotion chasers Shrewsbury in a huge FA Cup shock at Croft Park.

It's back to the comparatively mundane business of Blue Square North duties for Harry Dunn's fourth-from-bottom Spartans at the CNG Stadium tonight, with Town eager to provide them with a crash landing.

To do that, they must keep sharp-shooting accountancy student Reay, 19, firmly in check.

Ex-Darlington forward Reay joined Town on loan at the start of the season, but found his opportunities limited and promptly joined Spartans last month.

Harrogate assistant-boss Trevor Storton said: "Sean's a nice lad and I'm glad he did well for himself and took the plaudits on Saturday.

"He's one of those kids who isn't big-headed and has a great attitude. It was just unfortunate that at the time he was here, we were playing well and sometimes you don't change a winning side.

"But we'll certainly have to keep an eye on him."

That said, the portents are set fair for a home victory tonight, especially with Spartans having suffered a debilitating bout of travel sickness this term, losing all seven league matches on the road.

The North-Easterners have also lost their last six league games on the spin – and are without a win since September 2 – while third-placed Town are nigh on impregnable on their own patch and have yet to see their colours lowered this term.

But despite statistics clearly pointing to nothing less than a home win – a positive three-goal swing could see Town leap up to second above Southport – Storton is warning the hosts to be on their guard, especially with the 'bounce' of a massive cup scalp having put a spring in Spartans' step.

He added: "Blyth will be cock-a-hoop and wins like that can only breed confidence.

"We are going to have to be on our toes. If we think it will be an easy game because they have struggled away from home, we'll have to think again.

"These sort of teams can catch you out, but for me, it's about what we do. We feel we can beat anybody at home.

"Our home form is excellent and if we play to our potential, we're as good as anybody in this league.Defensively, we've been excellent – without placing a hoodoo on the back four.

"They are always a force at home, but they have lots of travelling to get to away games and you don't know if that maybe gets to their players."

A 10-day breather between games has been just the ticket for Town, according to Storton, whose side will be without the services of suspended striker James Dean tonight.

Dean serves the second game of a three-match ban, with Jamie Smith – who impressed in the win at Burscough – set to continue up front with Richard Marshall.

Storton added: "The good thing is we've been able to rest some lads with minor knocks and they haven't got worse, which is always good.

"Danny Holland has now had his operation and should be back within six weeks. James Dean will be back in a couple of games, but Jamie Smith has stepped in and done ever so well in his absence."


Guiseley goalkeeper Jonny Maxted saves his first penalty at 
Accrington Stanley in the sides' FA Cup first-round replay. PIC: Bruce Rollinson

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