Match Preview: South Shields vs Trafford, Evo-Stik North Division
Mariners Park is set to host its final game of a remarkable 2017 on Saturday as Trafford make the journey to South Tyneside.
South Shields will be looking to end a near-perfect calendar year of home matches on a high against a side they defeated 2-1 in an eventful opening game of the season in August.
This will be the Mariners’ 29th home match of the year in all competitions, and they will be looking for their 26th win. The only blemishes on their record came via a defeat to Hartlepool United in the FA Cup, a draw against Morpeth Town in the Northern League and a draw against Farsley Celtic in the Integro Cup. Shields went on to win that tie on penalties.
Evo-Stik North leaders Shields go into Saturday’s game with a 14-point lead on seventh-placed Trafford, with five matches in hand.
However, the Manchester-based side proved how capable they are on the opening day of the season as they took the lead against the Mariners and battled all the way before succumbing to a narrow defeat.
Shields joint manager Lee Picton feels his team will need to improve on the performance which saw them beat Sunderland RCA 3-2 in the Durham Challenge Cup on Tuesday if they are to come out with maximum points.
He said: “It was a really tough encounter at their place on the opening day, and there was a bit of niggle in the game. It’s going to be a difficult match.
“If we perform to the levels we did on Tuesday, we’re going to walk away from the game with nothing to show for it.
“We’re going to have to find the motivation that for whatever reason didn’t seem to be there with some players on Tuesday ahead of Saturday’s game, because it’s going to be a really tough one.”
On Trafford’s form, Picton added: “They had a really poor start to the season, for the quality of players that they’ve got in their squad.
“They’ve picked up over their last 10 games or so, although they conceded six against Hyde in their most recent fixture.
“As tough a game as it’s going to be, if we can get our levels right and get ourselves prepared properly, we can score goals against anyone at this level. That’s hopefully what we’re going to do.”
Shields are hoping to have a close to full strength squad available after a strong showing in training on Thursday.
Kick-off at Mariners Park is at 3pm, with admission – costing £8 for adults, £6 for students and over-65s, and £2 for under-16s – to be paid at the turnstiles.
The turnstiles at Mariners Park will be open at 12.30pm, so we hope you can come down early and enjoy what is our final home matchday of 2017.
In the marquee, while stocks last pints of Heineken and John Smith’s will be available for £2.
In addition, we will have entertainment for you after the match, so please stay behind to take advantage of that. Singer Jonathan Page will be performing in the O’Brien Lounge from 5pm.
We hope you have a fantastic day – come and celebrate what has been a brilliant year for the club!