Match Preview: Grantham Town vs South Shields, The Pitching In Northern Premier League
South Shields bring their league fixture programme to an end on Saturday when they travel to Grantham Town (3pm kick-off)
Barring an extremely unlikely set of circumstances, the Mariners will finish second in the Pitching In Northern Premier League and take part in a home play-off semi-final on Tuesday.
Before that, they take on relegated Grantham as they aim to generate some momentum ahead of a pivotal meeting with Warrington Town, Scarborough Athletic, Matlock Town or Bamber Bridge.
Team selection will be a delicate call for manager Kevin Phillips, who has confirmed he will make changes at South Kesteven Sports Stadium.
He said: “I’ve got decisions to make, because Tuesday is obviously the most important thing and we have to make sure everyone is fully fit and ready to go for that.
“There will definitely be changes but no matter who plays, it’s about trying to build confidence and get back to winning ways ahead of a high-pressure match.
“That’s what play-off games are like, and you’ve got to deal with it mentally and physically.
“Physically we’ll be fine, and it’s down to the players now to dig deep into their own body and their own mind, and get themselves prepared for it.”
Grantham’s relegation was confirmed earlier this month, but the Gingerbreads have picked up four points from their last two games to demonstrate their character.
Shields’ title hopes – barring a 12-goal swing on Saturday – were ended by a 3-2 loss at home to Whitby Town on Monday, after which the team showed their appreciation for the support they have received all season.
Now it is time for one final push, with the winners of Tuesday’s semi-final to take their place in the play-off final on Monday, May 2.
Phillips added: “The fans have been magnificent throughout the season and it was such a shame we couldn’t send them home happy last week.
“I urge them to turn up in their droves on Tuesday, which I’m sure they will.
“They’ll get right behind their team as they did on Monday, and the lads showed their appreciation at the end.
“It has been a tough season and so up and down.
“It’s difficult to get out of this league but we’ve got another opportunity and we’re going to need the supporters to get right behind us.”
Shields remain without midfielder Callum Ross heading into Saturday’s game.
Kick-off at South Kesteven Sports Stadium – which has a postcode of NG31 7XQ – is at 3pm.
Admission prices are £12 for adults, £8 for concessions, £3 for under-18s and free for under-14s with a paying adult.
Ticket details for the play-offs, meanwhile, have not yet been confirmed while uncertainty remains over the identity of Shields’ semi-final opponents.