Preview: Team Northumbria vs South Shields
South Shields face arguably their biggest league game of the season so far on Saturday when they travel to Team Northumbria.
The students are third in the table, having played a game more than the Mariners, who lead them by nine points.
Team Northumbria are in fine form, and have not lost in their last 12 league games to push themselves into the promotion places.
Shields manager Jon King is hoping his side will be backed by a strong travelling support for the 3pm kick-off at Coach Lane Sports Centre.
He said: “Our fans have been superb all season, and have helped us through some really difficult matches.
“Saturday is a massive game for us, and the supporters could make a huge difference.
“With no competitive games involving the other North East sides on Saturday, it would be fantastic if we had yet another great following roaring us on.”
Striker Martyn Coleman could make his first league appearance for the Mariners after scoring twice on his debut on Tuesday.
That was in a 5-2 victory over South Tyneside neighbours Hebburn Town on a tricky pitch at Mariners Park.
Coleman believes the pitch at Coach Lane should suit Shields.
He said: “I think there will be a good pitch on Saturday at Team Northumbria. We’ll be able to get the ball down and start playing there.
“It’s a big game, and we know how important the three points could be.
“We’ll have a couple of the lads back who were suspended, and we’ll have a good go on Saturday.”
The returnees from suspension are Leepaul Scroggins and Julio Arca, and they join in-form Robert Briggs in competing for a place in the centre of midfield.
Briggs was another player to score twice against Hebburn, and said: “It’s a massive game against Team Northumbria.
“We recently lost at Ryhope CW and Billingham Synthonia in the league, so this is another opportunity for us to beat a promotion rival and one we know it’s important to take.
“We’ve beaten them in two tight games already this season, and we know what kind of test they’re going to give us.
“There’s a really nice pitch there, which will suit us. I think we’ll get it down and move it, and hopefully we’ll get another win.”
Shields defender Lewis Galpin has returned to light training, but is not yet in contention for a return to competitive action.
Kick-off at Coach Lane Sports Centre is at 3pm. The post code of the ground is NE7 7XA.
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.