Morpeth Town preview: Pitch inspection planned at Consett
The Mariners are hoping to finally play their FA Vase third round tie with Morpeth Town on Friday.
The match is due to take place at Consett’s Belle View ground at 7.45pm, with extra-time and penalties if the game is level after 90 minutes.
However, due to the snowfall and freezing conditions over the last 24 hours, the game on Consett’s 3G surface is in some doubt.
These are the only conditions which usually cast matches on 3G pitches into doubt, and because of this, an inspection will take place on Friday morning to decide if it can go ahead.
If it does, the sides will be battling it out to host North Shields in round four.
It will be the Mariners’ first competitive outing since a 4-1 win over Alnwick Town on December 19, while Morpeth have not played competitively since a loss by the same scoreline at Guisborough on November 28.
Shields manager Jon King is expecting both sides to face their most difficult test of the season so far.
The Mariners are on a 20-match winning streak and sit top of Ebac Northern League Division Two, while Morpeth have been top of Division One for most of the campaign.
They are now second, two points behind Shildon but with three games in hand.
King – who has fond memories of Morpeth from his time as manager of the club – said: “Morpeth have been top of their league for most of the season, and have some very good players.
“We’ve done a lot of homework on them, and we’ve worked on things in training. We want to get the game on and get the season back on track.
“We will need to be on top of our game to win, but we’re quietly confident. I’m sure Morpeth will be saying the same thing, so it should be a great game. It will be the toughest match of the season so far for both sides.”
King is hoping plenty of Shields fans will make it to the game, which has been moved to Consett after a raft of postponements at Mariners Park.
He added: “The biggest thing for me is the supporters. I really hope they can make it to the game.
“The weather won’t be the best at Consett, but the fans had a great time there the last time they went when we beat Consett in the last round.
“Hopefully they can come out in even more numbers and make it like the home game it was going to be. Their backing always makes it really special for the players.”
King is also confident playing on the 3G pitch at Consett will not be an issue for either side.
He said: “The last time we played there, the weather affected the game a bit, and the ball was bouncing away from the players because of the wind. It wasn’t really the pitch that was the problem.
“We train on a similar surface twice a week at Harton Technology College, so the lads are used to it.
“We played Consett there in the last round and beat them, and then beat West Allotment Celtic in a friendly on Saturday on that kind of pitch, so hopefully we can do it again.
“It’s the same for Morpeth. They train on that type of surface, so we both have experience of playing on it.”
Shields will be without the ineligible Ibby Hassan, John Grey and Danny Carson for the 7.45pm kick-off, while Lewis Galpin remains out with a broken leg.
However, defender Daryll Hall should be available after recovering from the foot injury he picked up in Saturday’s 3-1 win over West Allotment Celtic.
Places are still available on the supporters’ coach heading to Consett, costing £7 per person. The bus will depart Mariners Park at 6pm. To secure a place, call 0191 454 7800 from 9am onwards or call into Mariners Park.