Match Preview: South Shields vs Farsley Celtic, Evo-Stik Premier Division
Mariners Park is to play host to a top two showdown on Saturday when South Shields and Farsley Celtic go head-to-head in a mouthwatering clash.
The two teams are locked on 53 points at the top of the Evo-Stik Premier Division table, having scored and conceded the same number of goals.
Shields will be out for revenge having been beaten 4-1 with nine men in the reverse fixture in August, and go into Saturday’s match in fine form, having won 10 and drawn two of their last 12 league games.
Joint manager Lee Picton has urged his players to relish the big occasion in front of what is expected to be a big crowd at Mariners Park.
He said: “We’ve got big players in our squad and big players live and breathe for games like this.
“I’m excited about it and I’m sure the lads are too.
“We’ve had a really good week of preparation and we’ve worked really hard behind the scenes to cover all bases and get ourselves in the best possible position to give the best version of ourselves on Saturday.
“If we do that, we’ve got a great chance.”
A bumper crowd is expected for Saturday’s 3pm kick-off, and Picton is confident that will spur his team on as they bid to continue their 100% home record in the league.
He added: “The Stockport County game in the FA Cup was big, but this is the biggest of the season so far, without a doubt.
“I’m sure the South Tyneside faithful will get behind the club and the team.
“We need to make sure that we give the big crowd some real energy on the pitch so they can get behind us and we can feed off each other.
“If we can do that and develop a real positive atmosphere for us as the home side, it will be a big plus for us.”
Shields won 3-0 at Basford United last Saturday to register their fifth consecutive win.
Another victory on Saturday would give them the outright lead in the championship race, with Picton keen for the Mariners to have their destiny in their own hands.
He said: “We’ve been trying to claw our way back from quite a big deficit over the last two or three months.
“We edged closer and closer and we knew that if certain results went our way last Saturday, it might be the first time we went top of the league.
“It happened that way, which was great, but what we said before the game was that we want to as quickly as possible get to a position where the league title is completely in our own hands.
“It’s still technically not in our own hands because Farsley have a game in hand on us, so this match is obviously a real big one.”
Shields go into the game without striker Carl Finnigan, who is still suffering with an ankle injury.
Barrie Smith and Anthony Callaghan continue to miss out with their long-term injuries.
Admission – which can be paid at the turnstiles – is £10 for adults, £8 for students and over-65s, and £3 for under-16s.