South Shields take on Hyde United on Saturday at Mariners Park in an eagerly-awaited clash between two promotion contenders.

It is the first meeting between the sides this season, with both having impressed in the Evo-Stik North Division so far.

Shields go into the game sitting top, three points ahead of fourth-placed Hyde having played the same number of games.

Hyde have lost just once in the league, and reached the first round of the Emirates FA Cup earlier this season.

Shields joint manager Lee Picton is expecting a tough encounter – and is looking for improvement after Tuesday’s 0-0 draw against Tadcaster Albion.

He said: “It was always going to be a big game, but it is even more so now after the points we dropped over the Christmas period and on Tuesday.

“We’re going to have to rely on people coming to the table and producing a real top performance on Saturday.

“Anything other than a top performance on will leave us falling short.

“We’ve got to come out on the front foot, and hopefully we can add a little bit of quality in the final third, that just seems to be eluding us at the moment.”

Shields will be without the injured Anthony Callaghan and Gavin Cogdon, but it is hoped that Barrie Smith will be available after recovering from illness.

Cogdon suffered a hamstring injury in Tuesday’s game, and will undoubtedly be a big miss for the Mariners.

However, Picton is hopeful another member of the squad will stake their claim for a more regular starting slot in Cogdon’s absence.

He added: “Somebody else will get an opportunity, and you’d like to think that everyone in the squad is chomping at the bit for a chance.

“We need other players to step up to the plate, because if we rely on four or five players between now and the end of the season to come up with the goods, we’re going to struggle.

“We just need everybody ready to play their part in what’s going to be a pretty frantic, fast-paced second half of the season.”

Kick-off at Mariners Park is at 3pm, with the turnstiles to open at 12pm.

Those visiting Mariners Park for the first time can click here to see how to find us.

Supporters arriving early and staying behind after the game will be able to take advantage of two Happy Hours on matchday.

The first will be between 12.30pm and 1.30pm in the clubhouse and marquee. Pints of Birra Moretti will be £2.50, with Foster’s and John Smith’s both £2. The Peterborough United against Leicester game will be on the TVs.

The second Happy Hour will be between 5.30pm and 6.30pm in the clubhouse. Again, pints of Birra Moretti will be £2.50, with Foster’s and John Smith’s both £2.

Admission to the game – to be paid at the turnstiles – is £8 for adults, £6 for students and over-65s, and £2 for under-16s.

Two more of the club’s fixtures in the EVO-STIK North Division have been given new dates.

The Mariners’ trip to Hyde United – originally scheduled for Saturday, November 11 – has been moved to Tuesday, February 20.

The match was postponed due to Shields’ involvement in the Buildbase FA Trophy second qualifying round tie at Stafford Rangers next Saturday.

The club was also due to face Ossett Town at Mariners Park on Tuesday, November 14, but that game has been switched to Tuesday, February 6 because of Ossett‘s involvement in the Integro League Cup.