Match Preview: Matlock Town vs South Shields, NPL Premier Division
South Shields have the task of ending Matlock Town’s unbeaten start to the league season when they travel to Derbyshire on Saturday.
Matlock have started the campaign in superb form, having picked up four wins and two draws in their first six games under new manager Steve Kittrick.
Shields have had a good start to the league season too, with 10 points having been accrued from their first five matches, so an intriguing encounter lies in wait at the picturesque Proctors Cars Stadium.
The Mariners suffered disappointment in midweek after losing their Emirates FA Cup first qualifying round replay at Colne.
They remain in good shape in the league, though, and have games in hand on all those teams around them heading into Saturday’s fixture.
Shields joint manager Lee Picton knows his side have a difficult assignment as they look to end Matlock’s unbeaten start.
But he says it is a challenge the Mariners should relish.
He said: “We have to move on to Saturday now.
“In some ways I hope it’s the perfect next game for us, because it’s a really tough test against a Matlock side in good form.
“We’ll see what the personality of our group is like and this match will be a pretty good indication as to what we may or may not need moving forwards.
“There have been a lot of conversations since Tuesday and the players have a really simple choice.
“They can feel sorry for themselves or they can react to it in the way we’d like them to.
“Myself and Graham (Fenton) are very self-reflective and will always take our share of the responsibility, but the players really need to take their share of it as well to turn this situation around.
“It’s not even nearly a crisis or anything like that, but it’s very unusual for us not to score in two consecutive games as we did in the two ties against Colne.
“We need to put that right very quickly.”
Shields midfielder Robert Briggs is doubtful for the match after missing out on Tuesday’s game with a hip injury picked up last weekend. The Mariners also remain without midfielder Luke Daly, who is out with a longer-term knee injury.
The biggest positive this season for the Mariners has been their defensive record, with just three goals conceded across seven competitive matches.
It is their goalscoring record that they now must improve.
Picton added: “Quite clearly the defensive side has not been an issue for us.
“We’ve only conceded three goals this season, so that’s not the problem.
“Some quality individuals need to start taking responsibility for producing quality moments in the games, which has unfortunately been sadly lacking over the last two matches.”
Kick-off at Proctors Cars Stadium – which has a post code of DE4 3AR – is at 3pm.
The Shorts Lounge at the ground, which is Matlock’s social club, will be open early to allow supporters the opportunity to watch the 12.30pm Premier League kick-off between Liverpool and Newcastle United.