Match Preview: Newcastle Benfield vs South Shields
South Shields will be bidding to equal a bit of club history when they travel to Newcastle Benfield on Wednesday.
The Mariners are aiming to equal the club record of 20 wins in a row, achieved by last season’s Northern League Division Two title-winning squad.
It is an important game in Northern League Division One for Shields, who go into it 11 points behind leaders North Shields in second, but with three matches in hand.
At the same time, the two teams directly below them – Shildon and Morpeth Town – will be going head-to-head at Dean Street.
For the Mariners, it is a second trip to Sam Smith’s Park within a fortnight, having won 2-1 there in the League Cup thanks to a brace of goals from Michael Richardson.
In a thrilling ending, Richardson put Shields back in front four minutes from full-time, but there was still time for the hosts to be awarded – and miss – a penalty.
Joint manager Graham Fenton is expecting another tough evening for the Mariners.
He said: “It’s going to be difficult.
“Newcastle Benfield have got some real quality players, as we saw in the game recently.
“The pitch is going to be difficult, so we’ll have to adjust and adapt our game a little bit, but we’re relishing the challenges put in front of us.
“We’ve won 19 on the trot, and we really want to make it 20.”
Benfield may have gone four games without a win in all competitions, but are blessed with one of the most potent forward lines in the Northern League.
Paul Brayson and John Campbell have 58 league goals between them already this season.
Shields striker Gavin Cogdon said: “We know how hard it was in the cup tie there, so we’ve got to go there and put a good performance in.
“We don’t want to slip up. We’ve got to go there and give it everything, because they’ll want to take points off us as much as any other team.”
Shields will be without the suspended Dillon Morse, who begins a two-match ban following his sending off in the League Cup tie at Benfield. Iulian Petrache is also suspended, while Leepaul Scroggins, Barrie Smith and Stephen Ramsey are injured.
Anthony Callaghan is set to return to contention, though, having missed the Vase win on Saturday as he was cup-tied.
Kick-off at Sam Smith’s Park, which has a post code of NE6 4NU, is at 7.30pm.