Match Preview: Bamber Bridge vs South Shields, Evo-Stik North
South Shields hope to take another important step in their bid for promotion on Tuesday when they lock horns with fellow high-flyers Bamber Bridge.
The Mariners will return to the top of the Evo-Stik North Division should they emerge from the Sir Tom Finney Stadium with maximum points.
They enjoy an eight-point advantage over fourth-placed Bamber, with two games in hand, heading into the fixture.
However, they certainly won’t be taking their opponents lightly, particularly following Bamber’s impressive 3-2 win at third-placed Scarborough Athletic earlier this month.
Shields joint manager Graham Fenton was at that game, and is expecting a difficult test.
He said: “It will be tough.
“I went to watch Bamber Bridge against Scarborough a week or so ago and they did well. They deserved their win.
“It will be a tough game for us, but hopefully Saturday’s match will have got the rustiness out of a few of the lads’ legs. We’ll be raring to go.”
Saturday’s 3-1 win at Glossop North End was Shields’ first league outing for three weeks after a host of postponements.
Fenton was delighted with the way his team adapted to the difficult, snowy conditions.
He added: “It was difficult.
“The flurries coming in during the first half especially were difficult for our lads, and it was the same for their players in the second half at times.
“It was difficult kicking up the hill into the wind, and I thought our lads dealt with it really, really well.
“The big thing for us was to see how rusty we’d be after a three-week lay-off, and we had a little bit of rustiness, but as the game went on I felt we got rid of that and played some decent stuff.”
Saturday’s game also marked the return of striker Gavin Cogdon from a hamstring injury.
Fenton was pleased to get the tricky frontman back on the pitch and firing.
He said: “We’ve been itching to get Titch out there over the last few weeks since he has been fit.
“He has been training hard and looking really sharp in training.
“On Saturday, once he got through the first hour, with it being so cold we were a little bit concerned about his hamstrings, so we decided to err on the side of caution and bring him off.
“He’s going to be a major player for us in the remainder of the season.”
Shields have a doubt over Barrie Smith heading into Tuesday’s game, while Anthony Callaghan continues to miss out with a back injury.
Kick-off at the Sir Tom Finney Stadium – which has a postcode of PR5 6UX – is at 7.45pm.