Brandon United Preview
By Daniel Prince. Image by Peter Talbot.
South Shields make the trip to Brandon United on Saturday looking to build on Tuesday’s thumping Durham Challenge Cup win over Crook Town.
The Mariners eased to a 5-0 victory against Crook at Mariners Park as they got back to winning ways, and will now hope to pick up three league points against a Brandon side which has started the season impressively.
Brandon finished bottom of Ebac Northern League Division Two last season on 16 points, and only avoided relegation due to the inability of teams in the tier below to meet ground requirements for promotion.
After just 10 games, they have already matched their points tally for the whole of last season, and sit just one point behind Shields.
No side has won more points than Brandon’s 13 in the last six matches, and they were on a five-game unbeaten run – scoring 18 goals in the process – before losing 3-1 at Birtley Town on Wednesday.
Shields assistant manager Gary Middleton feels the Mariners will have to be at their best to get maximum points at the Welfare Ground.
He said: “Brandon have started well, and no doubt it will be another tough game for us. We’ll have to be at our very best.
“We’re looking for consistency in winning games of football and getting into good habits.
“Winning 5-0, as we did on Tuesday, will only breed good habits.
“It was a great team performance. We played with a different tempo, and we knocked the ball about well, as we had done on Saturday against Stokesley.
“In the end it came down to putting the ball in the net, which we hadn’t done of late.”
Shields will be without suspended captain Leepaul Scroggins, but Julio Arca is in contention to make his first away appearance for the club.
The Mariners remain without the injured David Foley, but left-back Adam Curry is another player who could return, and Jonny Wightman is available after completing his cricket commitments.
Kick-off is at 3pm at the Welfare Ground, where Shields won a dramatic game 5-3 last September in the league.
There was little sign of the drama to come when the Mariners earned a commanding 4-0 lead with nine minutes left, with Paul Kane scoring twice, and James Talbot and David Molloy also on the scoresheet.
Brandon showed incredible spirit, though, and three goals in four minutes pulled it back to 4-3, with future Shields player Craig Roberts instrumental in the fightback as he scored twice.
With five minutes left, though, Talbot scored his second and Shields’ fifth to secure the three points.
In the reverse fixture at Peterlee, Shields were comfortable 4-0 winners despite going in 0-0 at half-time, with Molloy grabbing a hat-trick and Barrie Smith on target from the penalty spot.
The journey to Brandon United (DH7 8PL) should take approximately 38 minutes from South Shields.
To find the ground, drive on Western Approach (A194), and continue to follow the A194 through Newcastle Road and Leam Lane. At the roundabout, take the third exit onto A194 (M) and continue onto A1 (M). At junction 63, take the A693/A167 exit to Stanley/Chester-le-Street, and then take the fourth exit onto A167. Continue to follow A167 before eventually turning right onto Neville’s Cross Bank (A690). Then turn right onto Front Street and left onto Brandon Lane, before continuing onto Commercial Street, where the ground can be found.