Seaham Red Star Preview
By Daniel Prince
Jon King says his South Shields players are relishing the chance to take on runaway Ebac Northern League Division Two leaders Seaham Red Star tomorrow (Saturday).
Red Star look almost certain to win promotion this season.
Mark Collingwood’s side are eight points clear at the top of the table, with games in hand on the three teams directly below them, and it appears just a matter of time before their promotion is confirmed.
Seaham beat Shields 4-0 in the reverse fixture, but King says tomorrow’s test at Peterlee is one the Mariners are looking forward to.
The Shields manager said: “These are the games the players want to play in.
“It’s certainly going to be tough, because Seaham have got a good bunch of players together and deserve to be top of the table.
“They lost 2-0 at Washington on Tuesday, but I’m sure they’ll go up as champions, and the league table shows how strong they are.
“They have been the best team in this league this season by a distance, and I’m pleased for Colly, because they should have been promoted last season.
“They were denied promotion by a decision that went against them over an ineligible player, which led to a points deduction, but this time I’m sure they’ll be celebrating at the end of the season.”
Shields go into tomorrow’s game without the unavailable Aron Burn, Michael Turner and Chris Rue, all of whom have been an important part of the defence recently.
Against a side which has scored 109 goals in 33 league matches this season, that is set to make the Mariners’ task all the more difficult, but King has urged his side to show resilience as they look to get something from the game.
He added: “Those three players will be big misses for us, but it will give others the chance to play and stake a claim for a place.
“We’ll still have a strong squad to pick from, but we’d have obviously liked to have a first-choice defence available, as Seaham are especially strong going forward and score lots of goals.
“We’re going to have to defend really well.
“Over the last two seasons, we’ve lost at their place 5-0 and 4-0, which is something I will mention to the players as we need to put that right.
“I’ll be looking for a performance similar to the one we put in against them at Peterlee last season, when we played most of the game with 10 men and were only denied a win by a last-gasp equaliser.
“We need to show some resilience, as it’s 11v11 and we believe we can get something out of the game.
“We need to be on our game from the first minute, but it’s certainly a match we are looking forward to playing in. Hopefully, we’ll raise our game.”
Although Burn, Turner and Rue will miss out, Shields are expected to welcome back Niki Lawson, Steven Hubery and Alex Kempster for the 3pm kick-off at Eden Lane.