BLYTH Spartans have defensive headaches ahead of their FA Cup fourth qualifying round home tie against York City tomorrow.

Skipper Nathan Buddle is suspended after picking up his second yellow card in this term’s tournament during the team’s 2-1 triumph at Gainsborough Trinity, meaning he will join injured fellow centre-halves Ryan Hutchinson and Sam Brotherton on the sidelines this weekend.

Left-back Jordan Watson, meanwhile, limped out of last weekend’s 4-0 National League North defeat at Boston, although Michael Liddle is believed to be fit enough to return to the first XI in his place.

Midfielder Kieran Green will also be serving a one-match ban, though, for picking up his second FA Cup caution at Gainsborough, meaning boss Alun Armstrong’s resources will be stretched, with Aaron Cunningham and Connor Oliver in line for recalls to the starting line-up.

In attack, Dan Maguire is this term’s joint five-goal leading marksman with midfielder Sean Reid, while former City striker Bradley Fewster is still struggling to reproduce the goalscoring form he showed during his 2015/16 loan spell at Bootham Crescent or, indeed, the potential expected of him as an England under-19 international and Middlesbrough reserve.

Fewster, who netted eight times in 24 matches for City and won a League Two Player of the Month award at the age of 20, has only hit the target once - during the 3-3 Cup draw against Nantwich - in 13 appearances for Blyth, having failed to score in 24 outings for Spennymoor last term.

Blyth could soon turn instead to 18-year-old hopeful Jack Butler, who has plundered seven goals in six games whilst on dual registration terms with Ashington in the Northern League.

The Croft Park outfit will meet City, with Armstrong admitting the heavy defeat at Boston represented the worst performance of his two-year tenure.

But, at home, Spartans are bidding to rack up three consecutive wins for the first time since last November, having enjoyed 1-0 back-to-back triumphs against replay opponents Nantwich and high-flying Telford in the league.

Armstrong’s men are also their division’s third-top scorers at home with 13, placing them behind Spennymoor (18) and Kidderminster (16), even if Blyth’s tally is somewhat swollen by their freak 8-1 victory over Chester in August.

The rest of the season had been more of a battle, with no side having lost more than the eight defeats fourth-bottom Spartans have suffered.

Blyth also managed just three attempts on goal at Boston, where the line-up had been unchanged for a third straight match.

While the north-east club’s Cup reputation, meanwhile, is much renowned having enjoyed a run to the last 16 in 1978, their results in the tournament during the past three seasons have been poor.

Since reaching the third round and pushing Championship outfit Birmingham City all the way before bowing out 3-2 at home in 2015, Blyth have been knocked out in earlier qualifying round stages against Shaw Lane (1-2), Morpeth Town (2-4) and Spennymoor (1-2).