Championship splits father and son

Winning the EVO-STIK Northern Premier League championship earned Blyth Spartans striker Luke Armstrong a move to Premier League Middlesbrough on Monday.

The son of Spartans manager Alun Armstrong, who was released from a youth contract by Boro in 2014, is set to leave the champions after celebrating the title and promotion in their final fixture of the season when they host Grantham Town at Croft Park on Saturday 22 April.

As part of the deal, the EVO-STIK NPL Premier Division champions expect to name a date in the coming weeks for a pre-season friendly with Middlesbrough at Croft Park in the build-up to the new season ahead of their long-awaited return to National League North.

Since arriving last summer from Birmingham City, the 22-year-old - who has scored 23 goals this season - has established himself as a real force under the guidance of his father who admitted to feeling mixed emotions when his son's move to the Premier League giants was confirmed only 48 hours after his side took the title on Saturday with a 3-0 home win over Halesowen Town.

The Blyth boss said: “The biggest problem for me next season is finding a replacement for Luke. It’s a massive blow for me but I’m delighted for him because he always said that he wanted to get back into full-time football.

“It’s exactly what he has got but I have got an option to take him back on loan if that is required to help with his development. Other than that, I’ve got to go out and find a replacement for him.

“He’s going to be a huge miss. I looked at him during the win over Halesowen on Saturday and his work-rate was amazing. Him and 'Nipa' [Maguire] just seem to have a really good understanding together, so I have a job on my hands to find a replacement."

The successful partnership between Armstrong and Maguire has helped propel Spartans to EVO-STIK Premier League glory after coming so close last season and the Spartans manager is now focusing on strengthening ahead of new season following his son's departure.

The 42-year-old added: “My main objective is to find someone to replicate what Luke has done alongside 'Nipa', but I know the lads will continue to score goals regardless. There’s real quality in the squad and I need to strengthen for the summer, but there’s not a lot that strengthening really."

Images courtesy of Bill Broadley & blythspartans.com

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