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Michael Taylor 5th Jan 2009 - 10:12

Allardyce's men must prepare for battle

Blackburn Rovers boss Sam Allardyce faces the toughest test yet in his new role - finding a way to motivate his players for battle against the Spartans of Blyth.

Big Sam has made an immediate impact since taking over from Paul Ince at Blackburn, as his side have played with renewed vigour claiming five Premier League points out of a possible nine.

In fact it could have been even better for Rovers had they not spurned a two goal lead against Man City when there was just three minutes left to play.

However, the FA Cup third round tie against Blue Square North side Blyth Spartans is a whole new kettle of fish for Rovers' highly paid Premier League stars.

Minnows Blyth are sure to give everything for the cause and, despite their own relegation worries, they will see this game as an opportunity to show the magic of the FA Cup is still alive and kicking.

Tiny Croft Park will be bursting at the seams as freezing temeperatures and the possibility of a rout will not deter the Spartan faithful from making life uncomfortable for the 1995 Premier League champs.

With 118 places between the two teams in the league pyramid it is hard to see any other result apart from a Blackburn win and this is reflected with their 2/9 price.

However, it is on nights like these that miracles can happen! Allardyce's team will consist mainly of fringe players while Spartans' boss Harry Dunn doesn't need to be King Leonidas to get his men focused on the task ahead.

It all makes the 5/1 about a draw look exciting if not a little ambitious, while the 12/1 about a Blyth win would probably be throwing your money away.

Better value in this game can be found on the correct score market with a 3-1 Blackburn win instantly grabbing the attention at a big-looking 12/1.

Already in the FA Cup third round we have seen Southend, Gillingham and Hartlepool manage goals against Premier League opponents, so it is not unbelievable that Blyth can put one past a second-team Rovers.

And the Spartans can draw particular inspiration from Southend as they showed the type of fighting spirit Blyth will need, as they scrapped for a 1-1 draw at once-intimidating Stamford Bridge.

A 1-1 draw in this one is priced 14/1 and could prove to be good value, while a 0-0 draw at 18/1 is the most invitingly priced draw option available.

Finally, with the Blackburn starting line-up unclear at this point it is hard to say who looks a good bet to score, however the 11/2 about Matt Derbyshire notching the first goal of the game could raise interest.

And for Blyth it is hard to look past 7/2 anytime scorer shot Robert Dale as the striker has been a regular fixture on the scoresheet this season, managing eight goals in total.

Blyth Spartans v Blackburn Rovers - view the betting

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