Preview: Ryhope CW vs South Shields
South Shields will return to their promotion bid on Saturday as they travel to Ryhope CW for a top-of-the-table clash.
The Mariners saw their 20-match winning run ended on Wednesday as Morpeth Town won a dramatic FA Vase tie 10-9 on penalties.
That followed a 3-3 draw over 120 minutes as Shields gave everything to progress to the fourth round.
That was not to be, but they return to their primary goal of winning promotion with a tough-looking trip to Ryhope on Saturday.
The fixture is expected to go ahead after Ryhope tweeted that the pitch at Ryhope Recreation Ground was fine on Friday afternoon, with no more rain forecast.
— Ryhope CW (@RyhopeCW) January 22, 2016
League leaders Shields are nine points ahead of their second-placed opponents heading into the match, but Ryhope have a game in hand.
When the two sides met at Mariners Park in October, the Mariners earned a 2-0 win with goals from Andrew Bulford and Michael Turner.
Shields manager Jon King has backed his side to recover quickly from Wednesday’s agonising Vase exit.
He said: “The lads were obviously disappointed to lose on penalties, but we’ll pick them back up.
“They were down after the game, but we’ve got a big game against Ryhope, who are second in the table, on Saturday. Our focus is now back to the league.
“We want to get out of the Second Division at the first opportunity, and compete with teams like Morpeth every week next season.
“The dressing room was down, but I told the lads after the game to get their heads up.
“They did myself, the management and the town proud. I thought they were fantastic.”
Since losing to Shields in October, Ryhope have won eight and lost one of their nine league fixtures.
The Mariners, meanwhile, have won their last 13 in the league.
King added: “Ryhope have had a good run. We’ve won 13 league games on the spin, and are still only nine points clear, so it shows how well the likes of Ryhope and Chester-le-Street have been doing.
“No team is going to lie down and just let South Shields win, so we’ll have to show good character, which we will do. We need to bounce back from Wednesday.”
Midfielder Julio Arca has also backed the Mariners to bounce back.
He said: “It’s another big game, and it’s good to have a big squad, because I’m not sure how some of the players will be feeling physically after Wednesday.
“There will be some tired legs, but hopefully everyone is OK. If some players are missing, we’ve got a great squad.
“Anyone can replace anyone and I’m sure they can do the job. It’s another big game on Saturday, and we have to make sure that we win and keep the winning run in the league going.”
Shields will hope to be able to hand competitive debuts to Ibby Hassan and John Grey in the 3pm kick-off, while Danny Carson returns from being cup-tied. Lewis Galpin remains out with his broken leg.
Supporters who would like coach travel to the game can call 0191 454 7800 to book a seat, costing £6 a person. It will depart Mariners Park at 1.45pm.
For those travelling by car, the post code of Ryhope Recreation Ground is SR2 0AB. Parking is limited within the Recreation Ground, but plenty is available on the surrounding streets, with no parking restrictions.
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.