Buddle ready for Blyth’s big step up against Birmingham City

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DEFENDER Nathan Buddle acknowledges that Blyth Spartans face a “massive step up” in tomorrow’s FA Cup third round tie at home to Birmingham City.

The Amble-born centre-back has helped shoot down Altrincham and former club Hartlepool United in the last two rounds, but Gary Rowett’s Championship side are a much tougher prospect at a sold-out Croft Park/

“They will be a massive step up,” said Buddle. “They are in the Championship for a reason and they are six divisions higher than we are. There is no doubt whatsoever that we are the massive underdogs but we will go out and give it our all, then who knows what might happen on the day.”

Blyth underwent their final preparations yesterday, and Buddle is confident of another famous cup shock for the Evo-Stik League Premier Division side.

“I think it would be stupid to prepare differently for this game,” he added. “I will do the same as I always do because at the end of the day it is 11 against 11 and anything can happen on the day.”

Wales Under-19 international full-back Alex Nicholson hopes for another great day for the Blyth support, who travelled in numbers to Hartlepool in the last round.

He said: “The fans have been great home and away all season. As a player when you can hear your supporters getting behind you it gives you a huge boost so we will need them to do just than on Saturday which I am sure they will.”

The former Newcastle United reserve-teamer added: “Obviously, playing international football was great, but this is by far the biggest game I’ve played in.

“After all, it is the FA Cup and that beats anything really. It’s what you watch when you are growing up and it’s great to be able to play in it.”

Midfielder Neal Hooks, in his second spell at Blyth, said: “The game against Birmingham is certainly the biggest of my time at Croft Park and it’s in the top three of my career. We’ve done so well to get this far and hopefully we can create further history with a good result on Saturday.

“I was aware of the club’s history and tradition in the FA Cup. I have made the first round before during my time with the club and I know only too well how important a good cup run can be for the club and everyone involved here.”

This year’s run has seen Spartans overcome Darlington 1883, Altrincham and Hartlepool United. However former Spennymoor player Hooks said: “I think the moment I knew we were going to have a special cup run was the away game at Leek Town.

“We had a delay on the way down there, kick off was delayed and we had to come back from a two goal deficit at half time. The team showed then that we had the fighting spirit for a good cup run.”