As South Shields prepare to take on Basford United this weekend, we take a look back through the seasons at both clubs’ rise into the Evo-Stik Premier Division.
Mariners fans will already be incredibly familiar with their club’s remarkable rise over the last three years.
Three remarkable campaigns have seen the club hit a century of points and three league titles, including a quadruple-winning season in 2016-17.
Basford have also made the step up to the Premier Division for the first time this season after securing the NPL Division One South title last term, also recording a century of points.
While Shields have played in four different leagues in four years, the Canaries featured in six different leagues in six years between 2011 and 2016, a feat the Mariners will be hoping to replicate as they continue their push for the EFL.
In 2011, they joined the National League system by joining the Central Midlands League South Division from the Notts Senior League, which they won in their first season.
They then won step six of the East Midlands Counties league with a record points total and earned promotion to step five.
In 2013-14 they finished fifth in the their first season before being moved sidewards to the newly-formed Midland Football League Premier Division for the 2014-15 season.
They again took the change of leagues in their stride, winning the championship in their first season and earning promotion to the Evo-Stik League for the 2015-16 season.
This season is the first time that Shields and Basford have competed in the same league, with their only previous meeting coming on January 12, 2019, which the Mariners won 0-3.
Goals from David Foley, Dillon Morse and Gavin Cogdon handed the Mariners three points on that occasion, a result which moved Shields level of points with Farsley Celtic.
The Mariners will be hoping for a similar outcome this time, although hopefully the result will move the hosts above the league leaders!
South Shields face off against Basford United on Saturday hoping to maintain their push for a fourth title in four years.
But just how have their opponents fared so far this season? Here we take a look at the Canaries’ form guide this term.
United currently find themselves in a respectable eighth in the Evo-Stik Premier standings, mainly owing to their home form, where they’ve recorded a total of 12 of their 16 wins, including a 4-3 victory over league leaders Farsley Celtic in September.
On the road, however, Saturday’s visitors to Mariners Park have only picked up four wins all season, although all of their four victories have been by pretty comfortable scorelines.
A 1-4 victory at Marine was followed by a 0-4 hammering of Bamber Bridge, while Workington and Stalybridge Celtic conceded three and two goals respectively.
Basford enjoyed a pretty solid first third to the 2018-19 season, which included a run of one defeat in 11 games in all competitions between October and December 1.
However, their form took a turn for the worst towards the back end of the month as they then won just twice in 10 games, a run that included a hammering away at Hyde United by a scoreline of 3-8.
Despite recovering somewhat over the following months, a 4-1 defeat at Whitby Town signalled the end for then manager Martin Carruthers, who was replaced by interim manager and striker Liam Hearn.
The visitors will be making the 314-mile round trip to Mariners Park on the back of one loss in their last six league games, which has seen them pick up 11 points.
This run places them in seventh for the form guide for this period, although the Mariners themselves are top of the guide having made it six wins from six at Workington on Tuesday evening.
South Shields made it six consecutive wins as they overcame Workington AFC by two goals to nil on Tuesday.
Robert Briggs calmly converted a penalty just before the break after captain Jon Shaw had been fouled in the box.
The in-form Nathan Lowe then sealed the three points with a free-kick that proved too powerful for Aaran Taylor midway through the second half as Shields maintained the pressure on league leaders Farsley Celtic.
Joint manager Lee Picton had said after watching his side beat Hednesford Town on Saturday that the Workington clash would be a “different test altogether”.
And that rang true in the opening exchanges as a bobbly pitch prevented the Mariners from getting into their normal passing stride.
The first real chance of the game fell to the visitors on 15 minutes, however. After an initial free-kick was cleared, midfielder Lowe made a brilliant tackle to win back the ball before his snapshot was gathered by Taylor.
Two minutes later the hosts nearly took the league for themselves. David Symington curled a free-kick over the wall from 25 yards on the left of the box, but it curled just past Liam Connell’s upright.
In truth, it seemed likely that this contest would be settled from a set-piece, with both sides proving to be more dangerous from dead ball situations than open play.
This time, it was striker Ben Harmison who came close as he connected with Phil Turnbull’s deep free-kick but it lacked any placement, allowing the keeper to make a routine save.
Shields continued to pose a threat from set-plays. Phil Turnbull swung a dangerous free-kick into the penalty area, and skipper Shaw was hauled to the ground as he tried to meet the delivery. The referee had no hesitation as he pointed to the spot.
Briggs, who has been in superb goalscoring form this term, stepped up from 12 yards and placed his penalty into the right hand side of the net.
Just after the break, shot-stopper Connell was called into action for the first time as he did well to get behind Dan Carmichael’s sweet strike from distance.
Just as in the first period, set pieces seemed to be the more likely opening for both teams, so Lowe was presented with a great opportunity to extend his side’s lead as Luke Daly was fouled on the right hand side of the box.
From 20 yards, he stepped up and powered a drive that proved to be too well placed and powerful for Taylor, who got a hand to it that was insufficient keep it out of his goal.
From this point on, the Mariners looked comfortable as they saw out another vital three points in the season run-in.
With victory, Shields extended their winning form to six consecutive victories, keeping in touch with leaders Farsley Celtic, and keeping their promotion hopes very much alive.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Adams, Shaw (c), Morse, Turnbull, Briggs (Lough 45), Lowe, Daly, Bell (Cogdon 84), Harmison (Mason 71).
Goals: Briggs (42), Lowe (78).
WORDS: Chris Erswell. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.