Top scorer Carl Finnigan feels Nantwich Town will provide South Shields with an “acid test” as they look to topple the league leaders.
The Mariners have won their last four games in the Evo-Stik Premier Division, and sit seventh ahead of Saturday’s trip to Cheshire.
Nantwich are also on a fine run, having lost just one of their 15 league matches since being beaten 4-0 at Shields in September.
Ironically, that defeat was a 4-1 home loss to Matlock Town – a team the Mariners dispatched 5-0 last Saturday – a month ago.
The Dabbers sit top and are nine points ahead of Shields, having played four games more.
Saturday’s meeting is therefore vital as Lee Picton and Graham Fenton’s side look to make up some ground.
Striker Finnigan – who has netted 13 goals in all competitions this season – says Shields go into the match full of confidence after their victory over Matlock.
He said: “It doesn’t get any easier.
“We played the most in-form team in the league last week and now we’re against the next most in-form team who are top of the league.
“It will be a bigger test again, and will test where we’re at in terms of our away form as well.
“We’ve corrected a lot of issues we had, but this will be the acid test.
“We’ve prepared well and got good confidence, so we should have the full belief to go and take three points.”
Shields have won all eight of their home league games so far, but it is their away form which has pegged them back.
They have won three times and lost six matches on the road, and Saturday will be one of their longest trips of the season.
The Mariners did win in their last away league game, away to Whitby Town, and Finnigan is hopeful they have solved their early-season problems.
He added: “We need to win every game after we slipped down the table because of our earlier away form.
“I think we’ve rectified a lot of the problems we had, when we were causing ourselves issues.
“We’ve got so much quality in the dressing room that quite often we’re our own biggest enemy.
“We’ve addressed a lot of things and it seems like we’ve got things right, but we can’t get complacent.
“We’ve got to keep focussing on the next game.
“It’s just one game and three more points to try to take.”
Shields go into Saturday’s game without injured duo Anthony Callaghan and Barrie Smith, but Nathan Lowe is available after serving a one-match suspension.
Kick-off at the Weaver Stadium – which has a post code of CW5 5BS – is at 3pm.