Match Preview: South Shields vs Mickleover Sports, BetVictor Northern Premier Division
South Shields begin the second half of their league campaign when they take on Mickleover Sports at Mariners Park on Saturday.
Shields are top of the BetVictor Northern Premier Division on 45 points from 21 games, which is a figure they are looking to at least match in the second half of the season.
Joint manager Lee Picton believes if they achieve that, the Mariners will be tough to catch.
He said: “This is the first game of the second half of our league campaign and it’s important we keep our standards high.
“We amassed 45 points from the first 21 games and I firmly believe that if we can match or better that points haul we will be extremely difficult to surpass.
“To get three points on the board on Saturday would be a great start for us.”
Mickleover are 10th in the table having won their last three games, with both sides on an impressive run of form.
Shields have also won their last three matches in all competitions, with their most recent win coming on Wednesday in the Durham Challenge Cup against Billingham Town.
That was a game which saw Blair Adams, Josh Gillies and Dillon Morse return to action while Callum Ross made his debut in midfield.
Picton and Graham Fenton have been left with several selection dilemmas, but they are headaches which are being relished.
Picton added: “We’re going to have to make some really tough choices on team and squad selection.
“The return of the likes of Dillon Morse, Josh Gillies and Blair Adams, plus the additions of Callum Ross, Wouter Verstraaten and Sefton Gonzales, undoubtedly gives us a completely different look to our squad compared to previous weeks.
“It’s a dilemma we’ve craved but one thing is for sure, nobody’s place in our team – or squad for that matter – is guaranteed with such high competition for places.
“Hopefully that will bring out the absolute best in our players and help drive consistently high levels of performance, which is obviously what we require in order to finish where we want to at the end of the season.”
Shields will be without Luke Daly on Saturday after he was forced off in Wednesday’s Durham Challenge Cup win over Billingham Town with a knee injury. It was Daly’s comeback match from a five-month lay-off from a previous knee injury, but Shields do not yet know how long he will be on the sidelines this time.
The Mariners will also be without goalkeeper Ross Coombe.
Kick-off is at 3pm and admission prices – which can be paid at the turnstiles – are £10 for adults, £8 for over-65s and £3 for under-16s.
Students can enter for the discounted price of £5 if they show their student ID at the turnstiles, and will also receive a voucher for a free pie.
Ticket discounts are available before midnight on Friday by clicking here.
Season ticket holders, meanwhile, can claim a voucher for a free pint of draught lager, cider, craft ale or a soft drink if they enter Mariners Park before 1.30pm.
The turnstiles will open at 12.30pm and the usual Happy Hours will apply from 12.30pm to 1.30pm, and 5pm to 6pm.
Supporters who attend the game should keep hold of their ticket as if they bring it along to the match against Witton Albion on Saturday, January 25 before 1.30pm, they will be able to get into that game half price.