By Daniel Prince
South Shields manager Jon King is expecting a difficult encounter at Esh Winning tomorrow (Saturday) – if the game beats the weather.
Esh have won four of their last seven games in Ebac Northern League Division Two, and drew last time out at Stokesley Sports Club.
Among their wins recently was a 1-0 victory over Ryhope CW and a 6-1 thrashing of Tow Law Town, and their run of form has lifted them to third-bottom in the table.
When Shields hosted them at Peterlee in November, the Mariners ran out 4-1 winners, but King is expecting a tougher test this time around.
The Mariners go into the game in good spirits themselves, with their last fixture having ended in an impressive 2-1 win at Darlington RA two weeks ago.
They suffered disappointment on Wednesday when their Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup quarter-final at Birtley Town was called off for a second time, and tomorrow’s game could also be in doubt because of the weather.
However, Shields are hoping the fixture will go ahead as they look to close the gap on the top 10.
King said: “The game looks like it’s in doubt because of the weather, but we’ve got to prepare as if it’s on.
“It’s a big game for us, because we want to get the three points to move us towards the top 10.
“We’re 10 points behind 10th place, so we need to get the points on the board to close that gap.
“Esh have signed some new players and have had some good results recently, especially at home.
“They’ve still had a couple of heavy defeats away, but they’ve done well at home.
“Any game in this league is tough, as I’ve said numerous times, and the fact a team is near the bottom of the table doesn’t really mean anything. We know this will be a tough game.”
Shields will be without David Molloy for the match, with the forward having turned an ankle when trying to regain fitness after suffering from the flu.
The Mariners are hopeful, meanwhile, that Craig Roberts will return from a hamstring injury.
Kick-off at West Terrace is at 3pm. Postcode: DH7 9BQ.
*Return to the website later today for a video interview with Jon King, in which he will preview the Esh Winning game, talk about increased competition for places at Shields, discuss the signing of Michael Turner and talk about the future of two players*