Lee Picton says he is “proud” of his South Shields players heading into a season-defining fortnight.

With four games to go, Shields are one point behind leaders Farsley Celtic in the Evo-Stik Premier Division.

They take on play-off chasers Basford United at Mariners Park on Saturday on the back of six consecutive victories.

Joint managers Picton and Graham Fenton have been delighted with the efforts of their team over recent weeks, and are hoping they will pick up from where they left off in Tuesday’s 2-0 win at Workington.

Picton said: “Both myself and Graham are massively proud of the way the squad has been performing over the last few weeks.

“I know it’s easier said than done, but if we can continue to perform at those levels then we’re really confident we can end the season with something meaningful to show for it.

“Tuesday night’s test at Workington was everything we knew it would be.

“It was a difficult pitch and we were up against a resolute opponent, but through the sheer grit, determination and hard work of the players on the night, we secured what was in the end a relatively comfortable victory.”

Shields won 3-0 in the reverse fixture in January, but Basford have since had a change in management and now sit just five points off the play-off places.

They are among the league’s top scorers – only Shields have scored more than their 73 – and Picton is well aware of the threat they pose.

He added: “Basford seem to have been somewhat rejuvenated over the last few weeks since their mid-season change in management.

“We know they can be a dangerous attacking force, hence the number of goals they have scored this season, and we certainly won’t be taking them lightly in any way.

“We intend to come out on the front foot and get back to our usual brand of fast, free-flowing football, which if executed with enough consistency and quality, we believe will be good enough for the three points.”

Shields are expected to remain without Carl Finnigan and Barrie Smith, although both players have resumed training after their long-term injuries.

Gary Brown is also expected to return to contention soon.

Kick-off in Saturday’s game is at 3pm and admission prices – which can be paid at the turnstiles – are £10 for adults, £8 for students and over-65s, and £3 for under-16s.

Discounted tickets are available until midnight on Friday. Secure them by clicking here.

As South Shields prepare to take on Basford United this weekend, we take a look back through the seasons at both clubs’ rise into the Evo-Stik Premier Division.

Mariners fans will already be incredibly familiar with their club’s remarkable rise over the last three years.

Three remarkable campaigns have seen the club hit a century of points and three league titles, including a quadruple-winning season in 2016-17.

Basford have also made the step up to the Premier Division for the first time this season after securing the NPL Division One South title last term, also recording a century of points.

While Shields have played in four different leagues in four years, the Canaries featured in six different leagues in six years between 2011 and 2016, a feat the Mariners will be hoping to replicate as they continue their push for the EFL.

In 2011, they joined the National League system by joining the Central Midlands League South Division from the Notts Senior League, which they won in their first season.

They then won step six of the East Midlands Counties league with a record points total and earned promotion to step five.

In 2013-14 they finished fifth in the their first season before being moved sidewards to the newly-formed Midland Football League Premier Division for the 2014-15 season.

They again took the change of leagues in their stride, winning the championship in their first season and earning promotion to the Evo-Stik League for the 2015-16 season.

This season is the first time that Shields and Basford have competed in the same league, with their only previous meeting coming on January 12, 2019, which the Mariners won 0-3.

Goals from David Foley, Dillon Morse and Gavin Cogdon handed the Mariners three points on that occasion, a result which moved Shields level of points with Farsley Celtic.

The Mariners will be hoping for a similar outcome this time, although hopefully the result will move the hosts above the league leaders!

South Shields face off against Basford United on Saturday hoping to maintain their push for a fourth title in four years.

But just how have their opponents fared so far this season? Here we take a look at the Canaries’ form guide this term.

United currently find themselves in a respectable eighth in the Evo-Stik Premier standings, mainly owing to their home form, where they’ve recorded a total of 12 of their 16 wins, including a 4-3 victory over league leaders Farsley Celtic in September.

On the road, however, Saturday’s visitors to Mariners Park have only picked up four wins all season, although all of their four victories have been by pretty comfortable scorelines.

A 1-4 victory at Marine was followed by a 0-4 hammering of Bamber Bridge, while Workington and Stalybridge Celtic conceded three and two goals respectively.

Basford enjoyed a pretty solid first third to the 2018-19 season, which included a run of one defeat in 11 games in all competitions between October and December 1.

However, their form took a turn for the worst towards the back end of the month as they then won just twice in 10 games, a run that included a hammering away at Hyde United by a scoreline of 3-8.

Despite recovering somewhat over the following months, a 4-1 defeat at Whitby Town signalled the end for then manager Martin Carruthers, who was replaced by interim manager and striker Liam Hearn.

The visitors will be making the 314-mile round trip to Mariners Park on the back of one loss in their last six league games, which has seen them pick up 11 points.

This run places them in seventh for the form guide for this period, although the Mariners themselves are top of the guide having made it six wins from six at Workington on Tuesday evening.