Match Preview: Stalybridge Celtic vs South Shields, BetVictor Northern Premier Division
Stalybridge Celtic and South Shields meet for the third time this season on Saturday when the teams go head-to-head in the BetVictor Northern Premier Division.
The Mariners have won both previous fixtures between the sides but know they are in for a difficult task when they travel to Bower Fold.
Lee Picton and Graham Fenton’s side are looking to return to winning ways in the league after last weekend’s home loss against Witton Albion and know only a victory will guarantee they keep their place at the top.
Stalybridge, meanwhile, are in indifferent form having lost their last three league games, but the Mariners know their capabilities all too well.
Shields joint manager Fenton was encouraged by some aspects of his side’s win over Dunston on penalties in the Integro Cup on Tuesday, although he knows their quality on the ball will need to improve against Saturday’s eighth-placed opponents.
He said: “It’s always a tough game against Stalybridge.
“Their pitch is usually pretty good and should allow us to play our brand of football.
“We have to balance what we did on Tuesday in terms of our endeavour and determination with our football ability.
“We have to get the balance right because when we get the opportunities to play on Saturday we’ll have to use the pitch to our advantage.”
Shields and Stalybridge have already met twice this season, with the Mariners winning the reverse fixture thanks to a stoppage time penalty before also overcoming their opponents 2-0 in an FA Trophy tie away from home.
Stalybridge were inside the top five before their recent blip, and will be hoping to reignite their charge for the play-offs by picking up maximum points on Saturday.
Shields have doubts over Myles Boney, Gary Brown and Blair Adams, while Luke Daly and Ross Coombe remain out injured.
Goalkeeper Ryan Whitley is available to make his debut after joining on a month-long loan from York City on Friday.
Kick-off at Bower Fold is at 3pm.