South Shields will look to get 2020 off to a positive start when they welcome Scarborough Athletic to Mariners Park on New Year’s Day.
The Mariners go into the new year sitting top of the BetVictor Northern Premier Division but with a clutch of sides in hot pursuit behind them.
Scarborough, meanwhile, are 11th in the table and could move to within two points of the play-off positions if they win and other results go their way.
The Seadogs have been much-improved under new manager Darren Kelly, and earned an impressive 1-0 win over Morpeth Town last time out.
It promises to be a close and intriguing match at Mariners Park.
Shields joint manager Graham Fenton said: “We haven’t had an easy game against Scarborough previously and we’re not expecting anything different this time.
“It will be good for us to be back at Mariners and hopefully we can get back to winning ways.
“Going into the new year we can look ahead to the second half of the season, and if we can improve on our first half tally of points we will be very hard to defeat.”
Shields have new striker Sefton Gonzales available after his move to the club was ratified on New Year’s Eve.
They also hope to welcome back Gary Brown, Phil Turnbull and Myles Boney, although the game has come too soon for injured trio Blair Adams, Luke Daly and Josh Gillies.
Kick-off at Mariners Park is at 3pm and discounted tickets can be bought until midnight the night before the match by clicking here.
Supporters will also be able to pay for admission at the turnstiles at a cost of £10 for adults, £8 for students and over-65s, and £3 for under-16s.
The usual Happy Hours will be in operation between 12.30pm and 1.30pm, and from 5pm to 6pm. The turnstiles will open at 12.30pm.
South Shields moved up to fourth in the Northern Premier League Premier Division table after a goalless draw on a sweltering afternoon in Scarborough.
Chances were hard to come by at both ends of the pitch in temperatures approaching 30C at Flamingo Land Stadium.
Shields remained without a number of key players, although Blair Adams was able to return from injury as he replaced Kieran Charlton at left-back.
They started brightly and won two early corners, with captain Robert Briggs flicking the ball wide from one of them.
Many of the home supporters thought Scarborough had taken the lead in the 12th minute as a shot took a huge deflection before bouncing just past Myles Boney’s post.
The Mariners almost took the lead immediately after that at the other end as Millenic Alli played the ball inside for Nathan Lowe and his left foot effort was pushed just wide by Seadogs goalkeeper Tommy Taylor.
Most shots at goal at both ends of the pitch were from distance, and the latest came from Scarborough’s Ryan Watson, whose powerful shot from the edge of the area was superbly blocked by Gary Brown.
Dillon Morse blocked a similar effort from Chris Dawson later in the first half, with Shields’ sole further chance before half-time coming as Josh Gillies got in behind on the right of the box and slid in a teasing low cross which just evaded team-mate Lee Connelly.
The second half started at a fast pace and Gillies scampered down the right soon after the restart before delivering a ball towards Connelly, who was just beaten to it by a defender.
A more presentable opportunity came Scarborough’s way soon after as Kian Spence was found in space on the edge of the area, but his placed shot was deflected wide.
The hosts had another good chance minutes later when they outnumbered Shields on the right of the box, but substitute Wayne Brooksby’s effort was straight at Boney.
The game entered something of a lull as the second half progressed, and it was not until the closing stages that chances presented themselves.
Substitute Lee Mason looked set to run through on goal from the left flank two minutes into stoppage time before being scythed down by Harry Coates, who was booked.
The Mariners almost found the breakthrough with next to the last kick of the game as Callum Guy and Gillies combined before both saw shots parried by Taylor as Scarborough stood firm.
Shields will look to return to winning ways on Saturday when they take on Bamber Bridge at Mariners Park.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Boney, Hunter, Adams, Turnbull, Morse, Brown, Gillies, Briggs (c) (Guy 87), Connelly (Mason 54), Lowe, Alli (Baxter 69). Subs not used: Connell, Charlton.
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.
Luke Daly scored the winning goal with the last kick of the game as South Shields stayed in the title race with a 3-2 win over Scarborough Athletic on a pulsating afternoon at Mariners Park on Monday.
The Mariners had let a two-goal half-time lead – handed to them by a brilliant brace from Lee Mason – slip as play-off chasers Scarborough battled back in the second half.
But with Boro seeking a third goal which would have kept them in contention for the play-offs, they sent goalkeeper Tommy Taylor forward for a stoppage time corner which Shields countered from and scored, with Daly picking the perfect time to net his first goal for the club.
The result saw Shields climb above Warrington Town into second in the Evo-Stik Premier Division table, three points behind leaders Farsley Celtic heading into Saturday’s trip to Gainsborough Trinity, their final match of the season.
The Mariners were backed by their highest crowd of the season, with over 2,000 packing into Mariners Park.
The hosts started on the front foot and zipped the ball about well, with Jon Shaw sending an early header wide and Gavin Cogdon firing a shot into the hands of Taylor after a ball through by Daly.
Shields almost took the lead in the 20th minute when Blair Adams hit an effort which was pushed out by Taylor to the feet of Josh Gillies, but the ball came to him too quickly and ricocheted against his foot before being cleared.
Scarborough fired a warning of their own as they countered and Michael Coulson pulled a shot not far wide from the right of the area.
Midway through the first half, the breakthrough arrived for the Mariners.
Gillies raced away down the right flank and delivered a superb cross onto the right foot of Mason, who steered it home on the volley to score his 13th goal of the season.
Number 14 arrived just eight minutes later after a prolonged spell of Shields dominance which had seen Shaw and Robert Briggs both come close to doubling the lead.
Cogdon pressured Taylor into a hurried clearance and his miscue fell to Mason, who steered a terrific first-time effort into the net from 35 yards as the Mariners were rewarded for an excellent opening half-hour.
They could have made it three on the stroke of half-time, but after driving at the Scarborough defence, Gillies dragged a shot wide.
The Mariners picked up where they left off in the second half and looked certain to score when Gillies raced through on goal, but Taylor closed the angle well to make the save.
Scarborough gave themselves a foothold in the game when the prolific James Walshaw rifled the ball home from the edge of the box to half the deficit.
Boro were visibly lifted by the goal, although the big home crowd was given a lift when Carl Finnigan was introduced from the bench for his first appearance since sustaining an ankle injury in January.
Finnigan made an immediate impact as he played Daly in on goal, but he was denied his first goal for Shields by a superb fingertip stop by Taylor.
Liam Connell made a similarly impressive save soon after at the other end as he tipped a free-kick by Ryan Watson over the bar.
Scarborough were awarded a penalty with 14 minutes remaining following a foul in the box, and Walshaw looked to have given Shields’ title hopes a dagger blow when he rolled the spot-kick home.
He almost made it a hat-trick within two minutes of the equaliser, but his flick cleared the crossbar.
Shields gathered some momentum in the closing stages and Craig Baxter was inches away from giving them the lead in the 90th minute as his 20 yard effort flashed past the post.
They had to wait until the final kick for the vital breakthrough, and what a moment it was.
With Taylor racing back to his goal after going up for a corner, the referee played advantage following a foul on Connor Bell on the halfway line.
Daly picked up the loose ball and brilliantly flicked it past his nearest opponent before dribbling towards the goal-line and finishing from close range to create pandemonium at Mariners Park.
Shields’ title hopes were kept alive – in the most dramatic of circumstances.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Adams, Shaw (c), Morse, Turnbull, Daly, Briggs, Cogdon (Finnigan 64), Mason (Bell 68), Gillies (Foley 78). Subs not used: Brown, Mouanda.
Goals: Mason (22, 30), Daly (90+5).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.