Featherstone - Pressure is all on Hartlepool United ahead of Blyth FA Cup clash
NICKY Featherstone knows the pressure is on Hartlepool United for the FA Cup clash with Blyth Spartans.
But the Pools midfielder says it is also a great chance to progress in the competition with the cup clash bringing a break from the struggles in the league.
Pools suffered their 13th league defeat of the season against Wycombe Wanderers at the weekend, to leave them six points adrift of safety.
This week brings a welcome reprieve with the FA Cup second round match against Spartans on Friday night at Victoria Park.
The game will be televised live on BBC Two (KO 7.55pm) and Featherstone knows all eyes will be on Pools to avoid a major upset against the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League side.
“It is a local derby and a big game,” Featherstone told SportMail.
“The roles will be reversed from the Wycombe Wanderers game because we go into the match as favourites.
“We will be expected to beat them while they are coming to Victoria Park with nothing to lose.
“It is a game we should certainly be looking at winning.
“On paper it is a great chance for us to progress into the third round of the FA Cup.
“It is also a good chance to have a break from the league, to think about something else.
“Our main priority is the league and getting ourselves out of the mess we are in.
“But we can concentrate on the cup over the coming days.”
In direct contrast to Pools’ current plight, Blyth go into the game on a good run of form having won their last three matches.
The latest came on Saturday with a 2-1 win over Witton Albion at Croft Park.
Star striker Daniel Maguire was taken off after only 35 minutes with a leg injury but Blyth manager Tom Wade said it was precautionary ahead of Friday night’s cup match.
Wade had his players in training last night and again on Wednesday ahead of the game at The Vic.
“On Wednesday we will work on set pieces and shape,” said Wade.
“It’s important that the players are relaxed before the Hartlepool game.
“They need to enjoy the occasion on Friday while giving it a real go at the same time.”