South Shields will bid to extend their 100% start to the season when Hyde United visit Mariners Park on Saturday.
The Mariners climbed to the top of the early BetVictor Northern Premier League Premier Division table on Tuesday with an impressive 3-0 win over Ashton United, which followed up their opening day victory at Radcliffe.
They are now set to come up against a Hyde side which has won one and lost one so far, with their most recent outing seeing them win 2-1 at FC United on Tuesday.
Shields are set to be without a number of key players on Saturday.
The club’s appeal against the red card picked up by Jason Gilchrist in the season opener at Radcliffe was unsuccessful and he will begin his three-match suspension against Hyde.
Also ruled out of the game are Blair Adams (groin), Craig Baxter (hernia), Jon Shaw (hamstring), Luke Daly (knee) and David Foley (groin), while Adam Thurston’s fitness will be assessed on the day of the match.
Shields will have to make full use of their squad as they look to build on the performance which saw them defeat Ashton on Tuesday.
Joint manager Graham Fenton said: “We were really happy with Tuesday.
“There was lots to pick from it and lots to learn.
“We said to the lads afterwards that we’re winning while we’re learning, which is a major positive.
“It was magnificent to be back at home and we got off to a positive start.
“We want to make this place a fortress now as we have over the last few years.”
Lee Connelly could make his debut for the Mariners after joining on a 28-day loan from Sunderland earlier in the week.
Shields are expecting a difficult battle against Hyde.
Fenton added: “It’s always tough against Hyde.
“They are well-organised and particularly dangerous from set-pieces.
“They have lots of different set-piece routines which we’ll have to be on our toes for.
“We’ve had some tight games against them in the past, but we’re looking forward to the challenge and have got ourselves as prepared as possible.”
Kick-off at Mariners Park on Saturday is at 3pm and admission – which can be paid at the turnstiles – is £10 for adults, £8 for students and over-65s, and £3 for under-16s.
Discounted tickets are available from the club’s website until midnight on Friday.
The turnstiles will open at 12pm and there will be Happy Hours between 12.30pm and 1.30pm, and from 5pm to 6pm.
South Shields produced one of their most convincing performances of the season as they swept to a 4-0 win over Hyde United at Mariners Park on Saturday.
The Mariners were in command throughout as they moved level on points with second-placed Warrington Town in the Evo-Stik Premier Division.
Lee Mason put them ahead in the first half after good link-up with the terrific David Foley, and goals after the break from Craig Baxter, Nathan Lowe and Dillon Morse made the points safe.
Shields were anticipating a tough game against a side which had beaten them 4-1 in the reverse fixture in October.
However, they banished those memories with a display which had a bumper crowd of more than 1,850 purring.
Foley was at the heart of much of the Mariners’ impressive attacking play without getting on the scoresheet himself.
He signalled his intentions as early as the third minute when he got in behind the Hyde defence on the right of the area and cut the ball back towards Morse, but a defender nipped in first just as the Shields number five was about to slam it home.
Baxter had a good opportunity to open the scoring soon after when Lowe played him in, but he smashed an effort narrowly over the crossbar.
Hyde’s best spell of the match came around the 20 minute mark, but Liam Connell was on hand to make a smart stop from the dangerous Paddy Lane.
Lane again caused the Mariners problems when he advanced down the left and fired a ball across goal which Connell parried before Jon Shaw cleared the ball to safety.
Shields responded emphatically to Hyde’s bright period and opened the scoring in style in the 24th minute.
Robert Briggs won the ball 10 yards inside his own half and spread it wide to Foley on the right. He sprinted forward, beat his man with some superb skill and pulled a low cross into the area which Mason met first time with a piledriver into the roof of the net from 12 yards.
It was terrific play from both forwards, with Foley’s fine skill and end product met with equally impressive movement from Mason, and a finish to match.
Briggs was unfortunate not to double Shields’ lead eight minutes before half-time when his free-kick from 25 yards rattled the crossbar, but the hosts had plenty of positives to take into the half-time interval.
They picked up where they left off after the break and it took them less than three minutes to stretch their advantage to two.
Again, some fine movement was on display from Shields’ attackers as Blair Adams, Mason, Foley and Luke Daly linked up before Foley hit the post and the ball rebounded to the advancing Baxter, who slammed it home.
Hyde could have pulled a goal back moments later, but Morse brilliantly blocked from Kyle Brownhill and Connell made a good near-post save to deny Lane.
The points were then made safe in the 55th minute as Foley teed up Lowe 20 yards from goal and he thumped the ball past Hyde goalkeeper Peter Crook for his seventh goal in Shields colours.
The Mariners were rampant now and could have gone further ahead, but Morse was denied by a block and Lowe saw a free-kick saved by Crook.
The fourth goal eventually arrived a minute from the end after another spell of Shields dominance on the ball as Lowe curled in a teasing free-kick from the left which Morse helped on its way to the corner of the net with a glancing header.
It was an impressive performance and result for the Mariners, who were backed by a superbly vocal home support as they kept the pressure on Farsley and Warrington above them.
They return to action away to Marine next Saturday.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Adams (Lough 84), Shaw (c), Morse, Turnbull, Daly, Briggs (Cogdon 80), Mason (Bell 71), Lowe, Foley. Subs not used: Mouanda, Thompson.
Goals: Mason (24), Baxter (48), Lowe (55), Morse (89).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.
Joint manager Lee Picton says South Shields have “eight cup finals” left as they aim for a fourth consecutive promotion.
Shields welcome Hyde United to Mariners Park on Saturday as they look to keep the pressure on top two Farsley Celtic and Warrington Town.
Their entire focus is simply on what they can control, starting with the visit of Hyde.
Picton said: “With eight league games to go, it might sound like a bit of a cliche but we must treat each one almost like a cup final to ensure we get as close to maximum points as possible to keep the pressure on Warrington and Farsley Celtic above us.
“It certainly isn’t going to be easy against Hyde, though.
“We’ve had some very competitive games against them over the last couple of seasons and we’re expecting exactly the same on Saturday.
“We know from experience that on their day, Hyde can be a really dangerous opponent and as they showed here earlier in the season in the FA Trophy, they set up well to counter-attack and can be very dangerous on the break.”
Shields and Hyde were promoted together from the Evo-Stik North Division last season, and have already met twice so far this campaign.
Hyde beat Shields 4-1 in the reverse fixture in the league before falling to a 2-1 defeat at Mariners Park the following month in the FA Trophy.
That loss at Hyde proved to be something of a turning point for Shields.
It was their sixth defeat in seven games, but since then they have lost just three of their 28 matches.
Saturday’s game will be Shields’ first since beating Marine 2-1 on March 12, with last Saturday’s trip to Workington having been postponed.
The Mariners squad took part in an in-house friendly in the absence of a fixture, with a number of the club’s brightest academy prospects making the most of their chance to shine.
Shields go into tomorrow’s match without injured trio Carl Finnigan, Barrie Smith and Gary Brown.
Kick-off at Mariners Park 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.
You can secure discounted tickets in advance by clicking here before midnight on Friday.