Match Preview: Buxton vs South Shields, BetVictor NPL Premier Division
League leaders South Shields are expecting a “massive test” as they travel to Buxton on Saturday, despite going into the match 16 points ahead of their opponents.
Joint manager Lee Picton has warned the league table counts for nothing at this stage and he believes the Bucks will finish much higher than their current position of second-bottom.
Both sides reached the play-offs last season, with Shields beating Buxton 4-2 in a dramatic semi-final at Mariners Park.
The Bucks also took four points from Shields in the league campaign, so the Mariners are taking nothing for granted heading into the game at the Silverlands.
Picton said: “It will be a massive test for us.
“Tuesday’s game against Gainsborough proved that league positions count for little at this time of the season, and I’ll be astonished if that’s the area of the table they finish in.
“I’d hazard a guess it’s going to be the same for Buxton.
“They’ve obviously had a tough start but sometimes a couple of things might just not go your way at the start of the season, which has a knock-on effect.
“You struggle to gain momentum, you lose confidence and you can go through those tough patches.
“We had a couple of those patches last season.
“We’re just hoping that we can go down there and put in a performance that doesn’t allow them to come out of their blip.
“If we can take three points on the road at Buxton, that will be a tremendous result for us.”
Buxton have picked up three points from their first eight league games and are yet to register a victory.
By contrast, Shields have won their last four in the league and go into the match leading the table on goal difference from Whitby Town.
Captain Jon Shaw has struck twice in his last three league appearances after being switched to a striking role from his usual position at the centre of defence.
His performances have delighted Picton, who said: “Jon came to the club three-and-a-bit years ago as an out-and-out centre forward and a fantastic one at that.
“He still is, as he’s proving.
“Jon took his chance really well on Tuesday and I thought he worked his socks off all night.
“He’s doing excellently in that position.”
Shields go into Saturday’s game without injured trio Luke Daly (knee), Jason Gilchrist (hamstring) and Nathan Lowe (calf).