Match Preview: Witton Albion vs South Shields, BetVictor Northern Premier Division
South Shields travel to Witton Albion on Non-League Day as they go in search of a ninth league win in a row.
Shields joint manager Lee Picton is expecting Saturday’s encounter to be tough for his side, which currently holds a 10-point lead at the top of the BetVictor Northern Premier Division.
They kept their winning run going with a dramatic 2-1 win over Stalybridge Celtic on Tuesday as Robert Briggs netted a stoppage-time penalty.
Picton, though, insists there are many improvements the Mariners can make.
He said: “We’re obviously where we want to be in the table at the moment.
“A handful of teams have games in hand on us but the age-old adage is that you’d rather have the points in the bag.
“We’re nearly a third of the way through the season now and we’re very, very happy with where we are.
“In the 12 games that we’ve played so far, I’d say we’ve probably been quite a way from our best in most of them.
“I know that’s because we set ourselves really high standards and in football it’s not the same from game-to-game, week-to-week.
“We still firmly believe that there’s a whole lot more to come from us as a group.”
Saturday’s game sees Shields come up against a Witton side sitting 13th in the table, having picked up 13 points from their first 10 matches.
Picton believes his team is in for another difficult test.
He added: “It’s a really tough place to go and we had a very difficult game there last season.
“This is a league where anyone can beat us if we’re not at our best.
“We’ve got to keep driving the right standards constantly, game-in game-out.
“If we’re anywhere near our best I’m really confident we’ll get three points, but if we’re not near our best, who knows what can happen and we might get a big kick in the teeth.
“We’re really looking forward to Saturday and the mood in the camp is very positive, as you’d imagine.”
Tuesday’s game against Stalybridge has been analysed by the management since, and the players have been given feedback ahead of tomorrow’s match.
In the end, Shields’ determination got them over the line for another three points.
Picton said: “When you’re at the wrong end of the table or are on a bad run it’s tough to get out of that hole.
“In some respects it’s just as tough to come out of a winning run if that makes sense, because players in little micro situations all around the pitch just behave in a slightly different way.
“We’ve tried to pick the bones out of Tuesday.
“There have been a lot of things for us to think about ahead of Saturday’s game but we were massively happy with the three points on Tuesday.”
Shields have a strong squad to pick from, with Picton and fellow joint manager Graham Fenton left to ponder whether to name the same team which started each of the last two games. Lee Mason (illness) and Josh Gillies (stomach) are both battling to return to contention.
Kick-off at Witton Albion’s Wincham Park – which has a post code of CW9 6DA – is at 3pm.