Match Preview: Morpeth Town vs South Shields, BetVictor Northern Premier Division
South Shields take on Morpeth Town for the first time this season as the two sides go head-to-head in an eagerly anticipated clash on Tuesday.
Both clubs have risen to the BetVictor Northern Premier Division from the Northern League over recent years and come into this game highly motivated to strengthen their promotion ambitions.
Shields are a point clear at the top following Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Stalybridge Celtic while Morpeth are 14th, 10 points adrift of the play-off places but with a number of games in hand on all those above them.
A large following of Mariners supporters is expected at Craik Park on the club’s first visit to Morpeth since the 2016-17 season, when Shields triumphed 4-0 in Northumberland in both the Northern League and FA Vase.
A stern test is expected against a Morpeth side which returned to winning ways on Saturday with a 3-1 victory against Radcliffe.
Shields are looking to improve on their performance in Saturday’s draw at Stalybridge and joint manager Lee Picton is confident they will turn in an impressive display.
He said: “I think everyone knows what kind of game it will be and we’re ready for it.
“We’ll give a good account of ourselves, I know that.
“It could potentially be a springboard for us to get right back up to where we need to be between now and the end of the season.”
Shields could come up against a number of familiar faces on Tuesday, with Carl Finnigan and Wayne Phillips – both members of their 2016-17 title-winning squad – now among Morpeth’s ranks, along with former Mariners defender Michael Turner.
Wouter Verstraaten is one of the Shields players who haven’t yet tasted this fixture, but he is excited about the prospect of playing a part.
The Dutchman made his first league start for the club in Saturday’s draw and marked it with a goal from midfield.
He said: “Local derbies always bring something extra so I’ve really been looking forward to this one.
“The fans are amazing at every game and I can only imagine that they’re going to be absolutely amazing in this match.
“We feel like we’re in a good position heading into this game after Saturday.
“It didn’t feel like a good result straight afterwards but when we looked at some of the other results a point wasn’t the worst outcome.
“We’re still top of the league and that’s where we want to be at the end of the season.”
Shields will be without the injured Luke Daly and Ross Coombe on Tuesday and there are doubts over the availability of Jon Shaw, Blair Adams and Gary Brown.
Kick-off at Craik Park – which has a postcode of NE61 2YX – is at 7.45pm and admission prices are £8 for adults, £6 for concessions and £2 for children.