Match Preview: South Shields vs Buxton, Evo-Stik Premier Division
South Shields will aim to round off a positive week when they take on Buxton at Mariners Park on Saturday.
The Mariners have been bolstered by victories at Bamber Bridge and Dunston UTS over the last seven days as they strengthened both their push for promotion and bid to regain the Durham Challenge Cup.
However, they go into the game against Buxton knowing that any further slip-ups could prove costly as they bid to chase down top two Warrington Town and Farsley Celtic.
Shields are without a win in their last two home games, having won all 13 league matches at Mariners Park prior to that.
Joint manager Lee Picton knows the importance of picking up maximum points against Buxton, who defeated Shields 2-0 earlier in the season and are seventh in the table, six points off the play-off places with two games in hand.
He said: “Three points is pretty much a must on Saturday.
“We’ve got to go on the front foot right from the off and take lots of elements from Saturday’s and Tuesday’s performances to hit the ground running.
“It will be great to be back at Mariners Park and we’ve got a few really difficult decisions to make in terms of team selection, because some players really stuck their neck out on Tuesday.”
Connor Bell could make his first appearance at Mariners Park on Saturday.
The striker joined Shields a fortnight ago, and made his debut as a substitute at Bamber Bridge last Saturday.
He followed that up with an impressive performance from the start in the Durham Challenge Cup win at Dunston UTS on Tuesday, and Picton is convinced he is ready to make his home bow.
He said: “Tuesday was Connor’s first start for the club and the qualities and character he exuded were everything we look for in a player at this club.
“If that is a sign of things to come, we’ve signed a really good player and we’re looking forward to seeing more from him.
“He was absolutely outstanding.
“It wasn’t just his quality on the ball, but just his character and personality.
“I was talking with Graham (Fenton) and Brian (Smith) on the sidelines during the game and we said he’s right up our street.
“He’s tenacious, has a never-say-die attitude, has great energy and enthusiasm for the game and has some obvious quality.”
Shields are six points behind leaders Warrington Town, having played a game less, and five points behind second-placed Farsley Celtic, who they have played the same number of matches as.
They go into Saturday’s game without Gavin Cogdon (calf), Gary Brown (calf), Carl Finnigan (ankle) and Barrie Smith (knee).
Kick-off at Mariners Park is at 3pm and admission – which can be paid at the turnstiles – is £10 for adults, £8 for students and over-65s, and £3 for under-16s.
Discounted tickets will be available online until midnight on Friday. They can be bought by clicking here.