Match Preview: Marine vs South Shields, Evo-Stik Premier Division
South Shields travel to Merseyside on Saturday knowing victory could see them return to the top of the Northern Premier League table.
Shields go into the trip to Marine one point behind leaders Farsley Celtic after bottom club North Ferriby United’s results were expunged last weekend following the club’s liquidation.
They are expecting a difficult game against a Marine team whose form has picked up dramatically since Christmas, but with just seven matches remaining, they know the importance of maximum points.
Joint manager Lee Picton wants his side to continue where they left off in last Saturday’s thumping 4-0 win over Hyde United.
He has been pleased with the Mariners’ form over recent weeks.
Picton said: “Going into last week’s game, the message to the players was about how close to perfect we can be in terms of the number of points we pick up, which is far easier said than done.
“Even a few weeks ago when we had a small patch of results which went against us we were really pleased with the levels of our general play.
“We’ve continued with that and if we can keep those levels where they have been over the last few weeks, we’ve got a great chance.
“I’m not saying we’re going to win 21 points out of 21, but if we play like we have been, there’s a possibility and we’ll get somewhere close.
“If that’s the case, it’s going to be really tight at the end of the season and we’ll give ourselves a chance.
“It’s going to be a big effort and everybody will need to contribute, but the possibilities are definitely there for us.”
Shields beat Marine 2-1 in the reverse fixture earlier this month and were pushed all the way in the second half.
Picton expects the Mariners will need to come up with a number of different ways to win over the coming weeks if they are to claim the one automatic promotion spot available.
He added: “We’re going to have to find more than one way to skin a cat because there will undoubtedly be a number of sets of conditions and circumstances that will come our way across the next seven games.
“We’re going to have to show different qualities and have different approaches, be adaptable and flexible to give ourselves the best chance of winning each individual game.
“I’ve been to Marine a few times in the past and it’s a tough place to go.
“They won again last Saturday and are a side who have really picked up their form over the last few weeks.
“It’s going to be a tough, tough game.”
Shields remain without long-term injured duo Barrie Smith and Carl Finnigan heading into Saturday’s 3pm kick-off, while Ben Harmison serves the second game of his three-match suspension.