Match Preview: Stafford Rangers vs South Shields, The Pitching In Northern Premier League
Stafford Rangers provide the opposition on Saturday as South Shields play the second of four consecutive away games in the Pitching In Northern Premier League (3pm kick-off).
The Mariners go into the match at Marston Road sitting top of the table with 10 matches to play, but their last outing saw them beaten 1-0 at Ashton United on Tuesday.
Stafford, meanwhile, are one of the league’s form sides and are unbeaten in their last 10 games in the competition, a run which has seen them climb to ninth as they eye a play-off place.
This is the first time the teams have met this season, with the return fixture set to take place at 1st Cloud Arena on Saturday, March 26th.
This match was originally due to be held in November but was postponed after Shields became caught in heavy traffic, leaving them unable to get to Marston Road.
Stafford’s most recent match saw them defeat Stalybridge Celtic 2-0 as they continued their ascent up the table, so Shields are well aware they are in for a difficult afternoon in Staffordshire.
Manager Kevin Phillips said: “It goes without saying that we were disappointed on Tuesday, when we had an off night.
“Too many of the players were below-par and they would admit that themselves.
“We’re a good side but we’re not good enough to be able to have four, five or six players below-par and get away with it.
“We’ve reflected on Tuesday’s game and looked at it, but our full focus has been on preparing for another tough match in similar conditions at Stafford.
“We need to be ready for it and we will be.”
Despite Tuesday’s defeat, Shields remain in a strong position, three points clear of second-placed Buxton and four ahead of Matlock Town, who have a game in hand.
That reality helped Phillips maintain perspective after the midweek disappointment as the Mariners look to return to winning ways against Stafford.
He added: “You can’t get too high and can’t get too low in football.
“You’ve got to stay level and we’re still there at the top with everything in our own hands.
“We’ve got another tough game on Saturday and that has been my priority since the final whistle at Ashton.”
Shields go into Saturday’s game without Cedric Main and Callum Ross, who are both nursing knee injuries, with Jon Shaw also set to miss out with a groin injury.
Kick-off at Marston Road – which has a post code of ST16 3UF – is at 3pm and admission prices are £10 for adults, £7 for concessions and students, and £3 for those aged 16 and under.
Tickets for the game can be purchased in advance by clicking here, but fans can also pay for entry at the turnstiles. All tickets bought for the original match remain valid.
The gates will open at 12pm, with food to be available from 12.15pm.
A minute’s applause will be held ahead of the match to signal both clubs’ support for the people of Ukraine, and instead of selling 50/50 tickets, Stafford will be collecting funds to be donated to The Disasters Emergency Relief Charity for the Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal, which provides food, water, shelter and healthcare to refugees and displaced families.
Those supporters who are unable to attend can listen to live commentary thanks to The Mariners Live team. Click here to tune in.
As usual, regular updates will also be posted on the club’s Twitter account.