Match Preview: South Shields vs AFC Rushden and Diamonds, Buildbase FA Trophy
South Shields meet AFC Rushden and Diamonds on Saturday as the clubs battle for a place in the third qualifying round of the Buildbase FA Trophy.
The match marks the first meeting between the sides, who play at equivalent levels and have enjoyed a similar rise through the leagues over recent years.
Shields have secured three promotions since the 2015-16 campaign, with the Diamonds having earned the same amount of promotions since they formed in 2011.
The club was founded following the collapse of former Football League outfit Rushden and Diamonds FC, and they currently sit 13th in the BetVictor Southern Premier Central.
The Mariners go into the game following last Saturday’s 1-0 home loss to Lancaster City in the BetVictor Northern Premier Division.
It was Shields’ third league match in a row without a win, but joint manager Lee Picton has reiterated the faith he has in his squad.
He said: “I actually thought we played OK last Saturday, and well at times.
“Football is a funny old game though and sometimes it’s just not your day, and that was an example of that.
“I’m not saying we were brilliant by any stretch, but we showed a lot more endeavour and a lot more positivity on the ball than in our previous home game.
“They seemed to get all the bounces and all the deflections, and scored from a set-piece, which was disappointing from our perspective.
“We showed some real positive things and we’ve just had to dust ourselves down and move on.”
Picton is expecting a difficult match at Mariners Park on Saturday.
He added: “It’s a slightly different focus for us and an opportunity to hopefully build some confidence up if we can get our performance right.
“As always, though, we’re expecting a tough test against another team which will be determined to come to Mariners and leave with a positive result.
“The last three results in the league have been really disappointing from our perspective but if you had said to us before the start of the season we’d have 32 points after 15 games and be top of the league, I’d have taken that.
“Now we have an opportunity to progress further in the FA Trophy, which is a competition we want to do really well in.”
Shields go into the game without captain Jon Shaw (calf) and remain without Josh Gillies (hernia) and Luke Daly (knee).
They expect to welcome back Lee Mason after he narrowly missed out on the Lancaster game with a leg injury.
Kick-off at Mariners Park is at 3pm and admission prices – which can be paid at the turnstiles – are £10 for adults, £8 for students and over-65s, and £3 for under-16s.