Match Preview: Witton Albion vs South Shields, Evo-Stik Premier Division
Lee Picton is relishing a selection headache as South Shields look to maintain their promotion push on Saturday.
The Mariners have won eight of their last 10 league games and drawn the other two to put themselves into a strong position in the Evo-Stik Premier Division.
They head into Saturday’s match at Witton Albion sitting fourth in the table, five points behind leaders Nantwich Town with three games in hand.
Shields beat North Ferriby United 6-2 on New Year’s Day in a game which saw the likes of Gary Brown and Josh Gillies drafted into the starting line-up by joint managers Picton and Graham Fenton.
They have some tough choices to make on Saturday.
Picton said: “We shuffled the pack a little bit on Tuesday and brought Gary Brown in because Craig Baxter wasn’t feeling 100%, and I thought Gary was brilliant.
“We brought Josh Gillies in with Carl Finnigan dropping down to the bench, and Josh did some fantastic things as well.
“We always want players to be pushing each other on and creating really strong competition across all areas of the squad.
“There are going to be some really tough decisions for myself and Graham to make ahead of the game at Witton.”
Witton are 14th in the table but have numerous games in hand on all those teams around them.
They won 1-0 at leaders Nantwich last time out and also enjoyed an impressive run in the FA Cup, beating National League North high-flyers Spennymoor Town on the way.
Picton knows his side are in for a tough test.
He added: “Not only have they beaten Nantwich recently, but they knocked Spennymoor out of the FA Cup this season.
“We know that on their day they are a side which will be capable of producing a result in any game.
“We’ve got to take the real positives that we can draw from the Christmas and New Year period, apply the same levels and take the confidence we’ve accrued from that period into the Witton match.
“If we can do that, we’ve got a great chance of hopefully picking up three points.”
Shields go into the match without long-term injured duo Anthony Callaghan and Barrie Smith.
Kick-off at Wincham Park – which has a post code of CW9 6DA – is at 3pm. Admission prices are £10 for adults, £7 for over-65s and disabled supporters, £5 for those aged 16 to 21 and £2 for under-16s.
It could prove to be an important day for the Mariners, with second-placed Farsley Celtic coming up against third-placed Warrington Town and Nantwich facing a tough trip to Gainsborough Trinity.