Non League Daily

Goalkeeping Department Sorted at Blyth

Evo-Stik League Premier Division club Blyth Spartans have moved to sign two more goalkeepers, to give the recently re-signed Conor Grant some competition for the number one jersey.

James Howarth and Ryan Graham have both agreed to join the club, after impressing during the pre-season sessions so far.

Howarth (pictured) joins from Newcastle Benfield and the 20-year-old is gunning for a starting role this season.

He said: "I'm very happy to be joining. It's a big club and I'm sure I can make a big contribution to the team, starting with the game tomorrow hopefully.

"Everything about this club appealed to me. I knew the stature of the club with being local and, after Colin rang me up, I wanted to make the move as soon as I could.

"I'm not here to be a number two. I'm here to take the number one spot and I believe I can do that."

Fellow stopper Graham is also "over the moon" about joining Blyth.

When asked what attracted him to the club, the 22-year-old said: "Well, it's Blyth Spartans, isn't it? It's the biggest Non-League club in the North East so, when you get asked, you don't turn it down.

"It's a good opportunity for a young keeper like myself to get the chance here. Obviously, there are two other quality goalkeepers here and everyone's going for just one shirt.

"I'll just keep pushing myself to work hard in training and, hopefully, get my chance."

And, after seeing them both in action during training and matches, manager Tom Wade is happy to have the pair at Croft Park for the new season.

He said: "James played for North Shields against us on Saturday. He was meant to play the second half for us, but ended up playing for them.

"He was outstanding, to be honest. He had a really good game.

"But they'll both get their chance to show what they can do. They've trained well so far and there's a bit of depth now as well."

In addition, former Bishop Auckland Goalkeeping Coach John Bottensien has joined the club, to fill the void left by the departed Carl King.

The 46-year-old was down at Croft Park on Thursday night to take his first session since agreeing to link back up with Assistant Manager Colin Myers at Blyth.

And, despite replacing a popular figure at the club, the former Bristol Rovers keeper admitted that it didn't take him long to think about joining Spartans.

Bottensien said: "When I got the opportunity to come, it was a no-brainer really. This club's a massive club.

"I know a lot of people won't be pleased, what with Carl being here, but people move on and new people come in.

"It's nothing personal, at the end of day. It's just a footballing choice and it's one that has allowed me to come to a truly great football club.

"It was simply a case of me wanting to come and coach at a higher level of football, which is what we all want to achieve as coaches."

Meanwhile, Jordon Mellish has left the club.

Mellish, 20, played a total of 34 games for Blyth in two spells, scoring one goal.



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