Match Preview: Stafford Rangers vs South Shields, BetVictor Northern Premier Division
South Shields are bidding to maintain their place at the top of the BetVictor Northern Premier Division table when they travel to Stafford Rangers on Saturday.
Table-topping Shields are facing a Stafford side which sits bottom of the league on nine points.
Rangers have lost just once on home soil so far, though, so the Mariners are guarding against complacency.
Shields go into the match on a three-match winless run in the league and are determined to bounce back with a victory which would at least maintain their one-point lead at the top.
Joint manager Graham Fenton is expecting a stern test of their credentials, though.
He said: “Our pitch is particularly boggy and soft at the moment, and I’m sure it will be exactly the same down there.
“Our pitch last Saturday might have been a bit of a dress rehearsal for what we can expect at Stafford considering the rainfall we’ve had across the country.
“They always provide a tough test.
“They’re usually physically strong and determined so it will be a good test, but it’s one we’re looking forward to.”
Shields do not have great memories of their last two trips to Stafford, having been knocked out of the FA Trophy at Marston Road two seasons ago before requiring a stoppage time penalty to rescue a point from the same venue last term.
They do carry some confidence into the trip, though, following last Saturday’s 4-0 victory over AFC Rushden and Diamonds in the FA Trophy.
That booked a third qualifying round visit to Stourbridge or Lancaster City, but they will have to wait to discover their opponents after the original tie between the sides resulted in a 2-2 draw.
The replay is set to take place next Saturday, with the third qualifying round match pencilled in for Tuesday, November 26.
Mariners captain Jon Shaw and defender Robinson Wokoma are doubts for Saturday’s game with calf and ankle injuries respectively, with Luke Daly (knee) and Josh Gillies (groin) continuing their rehabilitation from injury.