South Shields welcome Nantwich Town to 1st Cloud Arena on Saturday as they aim to maintain their position at the top of the Pitching In Northern Premier League (3pm kick-off).

The Mariners defeated Matlock Town 3-1 on Tuesday to take their place at the summit but with several teams close behind them, the importance of following it up with another victory is clear.

A difficult encounter is expected, with Nantwich having won 5-1 at Stalybridge Celtic in their last outing.

The Dabbers come to South Tyneside threatened by relegation and sitting third-bottom, but their away form has been impressive throughout the season and they have among the 10 best records on the road in the division.

The reverse fixture, held at Nantwich’s the Weaver Stadium in October, ended in a 0-0 draw.

The dugout view

First-team coach Wess Brown was delighted with the performance of the Mariners on Tuesday, but has warned the victory’s significance will be diluted if it is not followed up by another win on Saturday.

Brown said: “It was a dominant performance from us from start to finish, and one that had been coming from the lads for a while.

“We had one lapse in concentration which let them in, but we knew what they were going to throw at us and dealt with them really well.

“We’ve set the standard now with that performance, but the lads know that Tuesday’s win is only good if we go again on Saturday and put in another big performance.

“We need to put a good run together to stay at the top.”

Nantwich have provided several difficult tests for the Mariners in their time together in the Pitching In Northern Premier League, and Brown is expecting more of the same this weekend.

He added: “Despite what the overall league table might say, Nantwich are one of the form teams in the division.

“They have been very good away from home in particular, and we’re well aware they have some extremely dangerous players who are capable of causing any team problems.

“We have never had an easy game against Nantwich and we’re not expecting that to change this time.

“They are likely to raise their game against us, but hopefully it will be another great occasion and it is up to us to follow up our performance from Tuesday.”

Team news

The Mariners are expecting to have Nathan Lowe available after he limped off in the second half of the midweek win with a shin injury.

However, they anticipate again being without Cedric Main as he continues his recovery from a knee injury, and will definitely have midfielder Callum Ross (knee) missing for the 3pm kick-off.

Matchday information

Shields were backed by their highest crowd of the season on Tuesday when 2,639 supporters packed into 1st Cloud Arena.

Admission prices for Saturday’s game are £10 for adults, £8 for students, over-65s and disabled supporters, and £3 for under-16s. Cash turnstiles will be in operation but tickets can be purchased in advance until 12pm on matchday by clicking here.

In a change to previous arrangements, turnstiles 1 and 2 will be allocated for supporters who are season ticket holders or have pre-bought tickets or hospitality packages ONLY. Fans will be able to pay for entry at turnstiles 3, 4, 5 and 6, and will be directed as such on matchday. Season tickets and pre-bought tickets can be scanned at any of the turnstiles.

Happy hour pricing will be in place in the downstairs TGS bar between 5pm and 6pm, with all other bars and the marquee to be closed after the final whistle due to private function bookings.

Kevin Phillips’ backroom team has been confirmed as South Shields’ new manager prepares for his first game at the helm. 

Phillips will be assisted by Jon Shaw and Wess Brown at 1st Cloud Arena, with Phil Naisbett and Andrew Morris to continue in their roles as goalkeeping coach and head of physiotherapy and medical respectively.

We can also today announce the departure of previous joint assistant manager Brian Smith, who has decided to bring his time at the club to an end.

Smith joined in January 2019 and dedicated three years of outstanding service to the Mariners.

Hugely popular with players, staff and supporters alike, Smith proved to be a vital part of the coaching staff during his time at the club and will be hugely missed by all concerned.

We would like to thank him for his excellent contribution and wish him all the best moving forwards.

Brian and his family will always be welcome at 1st Cloud Arena.

South Shields FC is delighted to welcome Northern Switchgear & Controls as the main sponsor of its Academy programme.

The branding of the Boldon-based company is featuring on the Academy’s home and away shirts for the 2021-22 campaign, which has so far included an impressive run to the first round of the FA Youth Cup.

Northern Switchgear & Controls is sponsoring the entire South Shields Academy set-up, which also includes the Futures Academy the club runs in partnership with Mortimer Community College, and squads of players between the ages of 12 and 16.

The business is a firm advocate of grassroots sport and its investment in the Academy supports the club’s next generation of players and the pathway provided towards a future in professional football.

Andy Ord, a director of Northern Switchgear & Controls since 2010, said: “We have been very impressed by the development of South Shields FC over recent years, particularly its commitment to the progression of young players and the investment in the new stand.

“It’s a project we wanted to support and when we discovered there was an opportunity to sponsor the Academy, we thought that would be the perfect aspect of the club to put our name to.

“South Shields FC is a club on the up and we are so excited to be a part of it.”

Northern Switchgear & Controls was established in 1993 and provides electrical switchgear and energy management to a nationwide spectrum of clients.

Craig Boddy, a fellow director of Northern Switchgear & Controls who joined the firm in 2012, said: “As a business, we like to support young people and we feel our values closely align with those of South Shields FC.

“We have previously sponsored local junior teams, fuelled by our memories of playing sports when we were young and the memories of how much those teams relied on sponsorships.

“To be able to support the South Shields FC Academy in this way is a real honour for us and we can’t wait to see the continued development of both this relationship, and the players themselves in the years ahead.”

Northern Switchgear & Controls moved to its current base on Burford Way in Boldon Business Park in 2017 and its turnover has risen from £1million in 2010 to more than £3million today. Staff levels have quadrupled in the same period from six to 24, with the size of its factory having trebled too.

The company specialises in the design and manufacture of HV/LV packaged sub stations, low voltage electrical switchboards, power distribution units, motor control panels, final power distribution and control equipment.

South Shields FC Academy manager Wess Brown said: “We’re delighted to partner with Northern Switchgear & Controls as our official Academy sponsor for both this and next season.

“In recent years, the Academy has grown in size and stature. We now have three strands to the Academy – the Futures Academy, 12-16 squads and the 16-19 programme – which provide over 150 aspirational young players an opportunity to experience and enjoy being part of a progressive player development pathway led by our coaching team.

“This season we have seen a large number of youngsters progress to play in our first-team, which is a trend we want to continue and build on.

“This support from Northern Switchgear & Controls will enable us to keep raising the bar by improving what we do.

“Craig and Andy have been great supporters of the Academy and like us, they hope to see more and more young players have the opportunity to progress in the game.

“We thank them for their support and we proudly wear the company logo on our strips in all competitions we enter.

“We’d also like to thank Robbie Blackburn for connecting us with Northern Switchgear & Controls. Rob is a wonderful volunteer coach in our Academy programme and without his support we would not have secured this sponsorship.”