Match Preview: South Shields vs Atherton Collieries, The Pitching In Northern Premier League
South Shields welcome Atherton Collieries to 1st Cloud Arena on Saturday as they bid to get back to winning ways in the Pitching In Northern Premier League (3pm kick-off).
The Mariners’ six-match unbeaten run was brought to an end in midweek when Morpeth Town defeated them 1-0, and Saturday will see them come up against a side with the fourth-best defensive record in the league.
Shields go into the game sitting second in the table, three points behind leaders Matlock Town with a game in hand.
Atherton, meanwhile, are 13th, and have been involved in the fewest amount of goals in the league so far this season, with their excellent defensive record contrasting with their form at the other end of the pitch. No team has scored fewer than their 24.
One of those was scored in the reverse fixture at the Skuna Stadium last November, when a 10-man Shields team were denied victory by a late equaliser.
Shields manager Kevin Phillips is expecting a difficult encounter at 1st Cloud Arena, but after Tuesday’s disappointment he is aware of how important a return to winning ways is for his side.
He said: “It’s about how we react, it’s as simple as that.
“We can’t let one result derail our season, and I certainly won’t let that happen.
“We’re looking for a strong performance on Saturday.
“I’m sure Atherton will be disciplined and their record shows that, as only three teams in our league have conceded less goals than them this season.
“On the flip-side, they also haven’t scored a lot of goals so it all suggests that they’ll be tough to break down and it will be up to us to be patient.
“We have to make sure we take our opportunities when they come our way.”
The reverse fixture saw JJ Hooper make his debut for the Mariners and he could again play a prominent role on Saturday, with the striker expected to have recovered from a thigh injury in time to take his place in the squad.
Phillips is also hopeful of having Cedric Main back involved after he missed the last two games, and their return is set to increase competition for places.
The manager added: “We’re almost back to full strength and the players have trained well this week, which has provided me with something of a headache over team selection.
“That inevitably means some players will miss out on Saturday but that’s part of football, and with so many matches to come in a relatively short space of time, the whole squad is going to play a massive part in the weeks ahead.
“To have JJ and Cedric back available would provide us with a very welcome boost, because they’re both good players and I haven’t been able to work with them as much as I’d have liked since I came in.”
Shields remain without midfielder Callum Ross, though, who is sidelined with a knee injury.
Kick-off at 1st Cloud Arena on Saturday is at 3pm, with the turnstiles set to open at 12.30pm.
Admission prices are £10 for adults, £8 for students, over-65s and disabled supporters, and £3 for under-16s, and tickets – including seats in the CEFO Group Stand – can be purchased in advance until 12pm on matchday by clicking here. Cash turnstiles will also be in operation.
Supporters are encouraged to stay behind after the game to enjoy live entertainment.
Straight after the final whistle, there will be a karaoke and DJ in the marquee while from 6.30pm, vocalist Jenn Cherene will perform in the Shipley Heating Lounge. Everyone is welcome in either of those facilities, with the other bars to show the day’s live football at the same time.
Happy Hour pricing will be in place in all bars between 6pm to 7pm.
Programmes are priced at £2 and feature an in-depth interview with cover star Jordan Hunter, columns from Kevin Phillips and Blair Adams, an in-depth look at Atherton Collieries, a catch-up with former Shields midfielder Luke Daly, all the latest from our Foundation, Academy and Ladies team, and so much more.
If you are unable to attend the game, follow live updates on the club’s Twitter channel, www.twitter.com/southshieldsfc.