Back-up plan secured in case of postponement


Jon King has described South Shields’s run of weeks without a league fixture as a “nightmare” – but has a back-up plan this weekend.

Shields have not played in Northern League Division Two since December 28, after seeing SEVEN games postponed, with Wednesday’s trip to Northallerton Town the latest victim to the weather.

The Mariners are due to travel to West Allotment Celtic for a league fixture tomorrow.

Shields have booked the 3G pitch at Mortimer Community College for tomorrow afternoon in case the game is postponed, and are planning a friendly against a Northern Alliance or Wearside League side.

Manager King said: “I think the West Allotment game is going to be off, as the weather has just got worse. It has been a nightmare, but it is the same for most teams.

“The chairman (Gary Crutwell) has been fantastic, and has managed to book the 3G pitch, and we’ve got a few teams lined up to play in a friendly if their game is also off.

“When we found out the Northallerton game was off I said ‘We need to get the lads together’.

“We hope tomorrow’s game will be on, but if not at least we have something in place.

“We need to do a bit of work, although the lads have been doing a bit on their own.”

Should Shields’s trip to West Allotment survive the weather, the Mariners will face a side flying high in second place.

King is expecting a difficult game against a team – and manager – he knows well.

He added: “I signed their manager, Paul Stoneman, for South Shields a few years ago, and he’s still playing now.

“He has proved to be a very good manager as well, and I knew he would be a success, just from the character he was.

“It will be tough for us, but they’ve got a fantastic pitch and that will suit us.

“We like to get the ball down and play, which we haven’t been able to do of late.

“It will be a good game. They’ve only lost once at home all season so hopefully we can go there and get something.”

Kenny Ball could figure for Shields if the game goes ahead, after a prolonged absence.

King added: “Kenny is back in the fold.

“He has made it plain he wants to come back for good after missing the season so far because he has a young family.

“He has been really upset the last few games have been cancelled.”

Wayne Clarke and Dan Hall are unavailable for Shields, while Tony Burnell is a doubt for the 3pm kick-off at Whitley Park.