Match Preview: Morpeth Town vs South Shields, The Pitching In Northern Premier League
South Shields make their shortest league trip of the season on Tuesday when they take on North East neighbours Morpeth Town in a meeting between the Pitching In Northern Premier League’s two most in-form sides (7.45pm kick-off).
A big crowd is expected at Craik Park for the eagerly-awaited fixture as both teams look to strengthen their chances of earning promotion to National League North.
No sides have collected more points than Morpeth (10 points) and Shields (13 points) in the last five games, but both are aiming to return to winning ways in Northumberland.
Morpeth were beaten 2-1 at home by relegation-threatened Nantwich Town and Shields were twice pegged back in a 2-2 draw at Buxton on Saturday, so motivation will be higher than ever in both camps.
The Mariners won the reverse fixture 2-0 in October but that was the last time the Highwaymen tasted defeat in the league until Saturday’s reverse.
Kevin Phillips has praised the character of his Shields players heading into Tuesday’s game.
The Mariners have won two and drawn one of Phillips’ first three matches in charge but he is aware this could be their toughest test yet in what looks set to be a red-hot atmosphere.
Phillips said: “I always look forward to derbies.
“I’m sure there’ll be a bit of flak coming our way and my way, but that’s what you play football for.
“The players have shown they can deal with anything and I’m sure a bit of abuse from the sidelines isn’t going to bother them.
“It’s about what we do on the pitch and we’ve certainly got enough in that dressing room to go and win the game if we apply ourselves correctly.”
Morpeth are 11th in the table having recovered from a slow start, with Craig Lynch having transformed the Highwaymen into play-off candidates over recent months.
Phillips added: “Their manager will expect a reaction from their defeat on Saturday and if you can’t get a reaction against your local rivals, there’s something wrong.
“We expect a tough match and we’ve prepared for it right.
“The good thing from my point of view is that I don’t really need to say a lot to these players because they get themselves up for it.
“We’ve got leaders in the dressing room and players with experience that are constantly talking and helping each other.
“We’re in a good place at the moment.”
Shields are second in the table, two points behind leaders Matlock Town.
Shields go into the game without the injured Callum Ross, but are hoping forwards JJ Hooper and Cedric Main will return to contention after missing out on Saturday.
Kick-off at Craik Park – which has a post code of NE61 2YX – is at 7.45pm and admission prices are £10 for adults, £6 for concessions and £2 for under-17s and those with a valid student card.
Tickets can be bought in advance by clicking here.