Match Preview: South Shields vs Bamber Bridge
South Shields are set for a tough double-header this weekend as they host Bamber Bridge on Saturday before making the trip to Scarborough Athletic on Monday.
The Mariners will be going up against two teams looking to win promotion from EVO-STIK North this season as their own promotion credentials are put to the test.
Saturday’s match pits the early top two in the table against each other, with Bamber Bridge leading the way by one goal.
So far, they have beaten Radcliffe Borough 2-1 and Goole 6-1, as they look to improve on last season’s 11th-placed finish.
WHAT WE’RE SAYING
South Shields joint manager Lee Picton said: “It hasn’t been an easy start for us, despite the fact we’ve won both league games so far.
“Trafford were a tough test for us in the first game in particular, and now we’ve got Bamber Bridge and Scarborough in the space of three days.
“They’re teams who I’m sure have got aspirations of being there or thereabouts at the end of the season.
“We’re going to have to do what we did at the back end of last season and utilise the squad again across the weekend.
“We’ve given some careful consideration as to how we’ve planned that strategy, but we’re thoroughly looking forward to it.”
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Bamber Bridge manager Neil Reynolds told the Lancashire Evening Post: “When the fixtures were released we wanted to go into this game with momentum.
“I am excited to test ourselves against them and see where we are and hopefully get another three points.
“After the game we will pretty much know where we are.
“It will be a brilliant game and a brilliant experience for our young squad.
“It is a young side with a couple of more experienced players like Jamie Milligan and it will be interesting to see how they respond to the occasion in front of a big crowd.
“It will be a big test of their mental toughness.
“Can we go up there and silence that crowd? I hope so. We just need to go up there, play our football and see what happens.
“It has been called an early title battle.
“They are the favourites for promotion, we want to be battling up there, I’ve made no secret of my desire to challenge at the top but it will be a real test of what level we are on.
“We have nothing to lose and we are going there to win.”
Midfielder Julio Arca is set to come back into contention for the Mariners after returning from a family break in Argentina, and playing an hour for the reserves in midweek. Carl Finnigan serves the second game of his three-match suspension, while Andrew Stephenson remains unavailable.
For Bamber Bridge, Stu Vasey and Josh Heaton will miss out through injury, but the visitors expect to have an otherwise fully-strength squad to choose from.
As this is a league game, season tickets and club passes are valid. For everyone else, admission – to be paid at the turnstiles – is £8 for adults, £6 for students and over-65s, and £2 for under-16s.
If you do not have a season ticket to watch games from the balcony but would like to stand there, please buy a wristband for £3 from the Barbour Lounge bar.
HOW TO FIND US
If Saturday is your first visit to Mariners Park and you would like directions, please click here. Below is a map showing how to get to the ground from Bede Metro Station.
Saturday’s 36-page programme includes a feature-length interview with Shields goalkeeper Liam Connell, a feature on the South Shields team of 2008 to 2010 with Leepaul Scroggins, David Graham and Simon Parkin, updates on the progress of SSFC Reserves and the SSFC Foundation, columns from Lee Picton and Julio Arca, and all of the usual features. Below is the front cover. The programme will be available on matchday for £2.