CAPTAIN Scott Flinders is relishing a “tasty” North East derby after Hartlepool United were drawn at home to Blyth Spartans in the FA Cup second round.
Non-league Spartans play in the seventh tier of English football and will be out to cause an upset at Victoria Park when the two sides meet in an already eagerly-awaited tie next month.
Flinders (pictured) believes the match against Tom Wade’s Evo-Stik Northern Premier League side is the “stand-out” tie.
Pools, bottom of the Football League, made hard work of beating non-league opposition East Thurrock United 2-0 in the first round and Flinders is expecting another tricky afternoon.
The reward was a home tie against Spartans – the seventh time the two sides have played each other in the competition. But the 28-year-old stopper says Pools won’t be taking them lightly.
Flinders said: “It is a local derby and it will be a great game for the supporters. Form often goes out of the window and it is about playing the occasion sometimes.
“They will be bringing a lot of fans with them I’m sure so it will be a tasty match.
“It is one for the supporters to relish and there is probably no better draw. A North East derby, at home, in the second round of the FA Cup with a place in the third round at stake – what more could you ask for?
“All the big boys come into the competition at that stage and we have to make sure that we are in the draw for the third round.”
Spartans reached the second round after pulling off an FA Cup first round shock as they beat Conference Premier side Altrincham 4-1 and they will travel south full of confidence.
The match is due to be played over the weekend of December 5-8, but there is a strong chance the derby fixture will be televised by either the BBC or BT Sport.
Flinders added: “It is a stand-out tie and it wouldn’t surprise me if it was on the television – that would be good to give the country a taste of North East football. As soon as a non-league club gets drawn against a league club it will always attract interest.
“People will want a slip-up and a big upset so we have to make sure we are right at it.”
The Pools stopper said his team mates will use the experience of playing against East Thurrock to ensure there are no slip-ups against Spartans, who will have ex-Pools players Nathan Buddle and Stephen Turnbull in their line-up.
“The experience of playing East Thurrock will help us because we approached that game in the right way,” added Flinders.
“They are always tough games but that is the joy of the FA Cup!
“We will treat it like any other league game because if you don’t, you can come unstuck because at the end of the day it is their cup final playing against the professionals.We certainly won’t be taking them lightly – the lads will be right at it.”
Blyth boast a strong FA Cup pedigree and six years ago saw off Bournemouth at the second-round stage before falling to Blackburn Rovers in the third round.
Pools and Spartans have met seven times in the competition’s history – the last time saw Pools win 5-1 at the Victoria Ground in 1961. The most memorable previous tie was in November 1925, with three drawn matches before Blyth claimed a 2-1 win.
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