21st win in a row the target as South Shields face massive match against Shildon

Michael Richardson attacks for South Shields in Wednesday's win at Newcastle Benfield. Picture by Peter Talbot

Michael Richardson attacks for South Shields in Wednesday's win at Newcastle Benfield. Picture by Peter Talbot

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South Shields take on Shildon in a crucial clash between two title contenders at Mariners Park tomorrow.

A victory for the Mariners would be a 21st in a row, and further strengthen their promotion hopes.

Shields are second in the table, eight points behind leaders North Shields with two games in hand, and nine points ahead of third-placed Shildon, who have played one match fewer.

Should Shields win tomorrow, they would break the club record for most consecutive victories, and joint manager Lee Picton has paid tribute to the players for their efforts so far.

He said: “It’s a fantastic achievement, and I think, over those 20 games, the lads deserve a huge amount of credit.

“They’ve not only had 20 wins in a row, which speaks for itself, but the quality of the vast majority of those performances have been outstanding.

“We’ve just got to try and make it 21 now on Saturday.

“It’s obviously a massive game against Shildon.

“Three points on Saturday would put us in a really good position moving forward.

“We’re looking forward to having another great crowd at Mariners Park and the fans can give us an extra lift.”

Shields won 1-0 at Shildon earlier this season thanks to a strike from Gavin Cogdon.

Much has changed at champions Shildon since then, with Bobby Moore taking over from Gary Forrest as manager.

Moving 12 points clear of the Railwaymen could provide the Mariners with a significant psychological boost, but Picton is looking for an improvement from the performance on Wednesday, when they won 1-0 at Newcastle Benfield.

He added: “I had real mixed emotions after the game on Wednesday.

“We were really frustrated for long periods of the game.

“Because of the conditions and the pitch, we knew we would have to do the ugly side of the game well, and we didn’t do it as well as they did.

“Hopefully we’ll look back at the end of the season on that as one of the best wins of the campaign, though.”

Louis Storey scored the winner on Wednesday, just weeks after making his first appearance in more than five months after recovering from a broken leg.

Picton said: “It was a massive boost for Louis.

“I was over the moon for him, because we all know what a long, tough road he has had over the last few months.

“That will give him a good boost.

“It was great to get 90 minutes under Andrew Stephenson’s belt as well, because he is almost the forgotten man in our squad, because he has been out for a while.

“He has the potential to be an absolute star player for us and I don’t think anyone at the club has seen the best of Andrew yet.

“I’m thoroughly looking forward to him getting better and better, and I’m sure he will.”

Shields are assessing the fitness of Robert Briggs and Julio Arca ahead of the 3pm kick-off at Mariners Park, but they should welcome back Gavin Cogdon. Stephen Ramsey, Barrie Smith and Leepaul Scroggins remain out injured.

Visitors Shildon have a doubt over Anthony Bell due to injury, but recent signings Lewis King and Adam Burnicle will be in the Railwaymen’s squad, which has been depleted by a flu bug.