Match Preview: South Shields vs Matlock Town, The Pitching In Northern Premier League

Match Preview: South Shields vs Matlock Town, The Pitching In Northern Premier League

The Pitching In Northern Premier League’s top two go head-to-head on Saturday when South Shields take on Matlock Town at 1st Cloud Arena (3pm kick-off).

Just three points separate the sides, with Matlock holding the advantage heading into the match and Shields needing to win by two clear goals to leapfrog them.

Both teams are in impressive form, with the Mariners having won their last four games and Matlock unbeaten in their last six in the league.

The reverse fixture was held in October, with a second half header from Darius Osei sealing a deserved 1-0 win for Shields.

Manager’s view

Another big crowd is expected at 1st Cloud Arena after Shields’ highest attendance of the season – 2,378 – watched Tuesday’s 3-1 victory over Witton Albion, which was manager Kevin Phillips’ first home game in charge.

Many have billed Saturday’s game as a proverbial six-pointer – but Phillips insists it will not define the Mariners’ season.

He said: “From my experience, there’s going to be a lot of attention on the game because it’s second against first but you play the game and not the occasion, it’s as simple as that.

“It’s a big game but it’s not the defining game of the season, and that will be the message to the players.

“The fans will play their part, and they’re important in every football match.

“They’ll support us and get behind the team, and it’s a massive help.”

Shields went ahead early in Tuesday’s game but their lead was quickly cancelled out by a Witton equaliser.

Phillips was pleased with the way his side handled that blow, and will be looking for more of the same on Saturday.

He added: “If we do have a setback, it will be about how we bounce back, like we did on Tuesday after Witton equalised.

“I thought the response to that was very good.

“The players have done extremely well and if they do win a fifth game on the bounce it would be a great achievement, particularly in a league like this with so many banana skins.

“It shows a lot about the character of the side.

“They want to do well and everything I’ve asked of them so far they’ve done, and more.”

Team news

Shields go into the game without the injured Callum Ross (knee), but welcome goalkeeper Myles Boney back into contention.

JJ Hooper is a doubt with a thigh injury, but the Mariners have an otherwise full-strength squad to choose from which includes Jordan Hunter, who made his long-awaited return from a broken arm in midweek.

Matchday information

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 but with a big crowd expected, the club would hugely appreciate it if supporters purchased tickets in advance to ease queuing.

Immediately after the game, a DJ and karaoke will provide entertainment in the marquee, with Happy Hour pricing to be in place at all bars between 6pm and 7pm.

Programmes are priced at £2 and feature an in-depth interview with cover star Jordan Hunter, columns from Phillips and Blair Adams, an in-depth look at Matlock Town, 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.

Image: Craig McNair/ID Event Photography.