South Shields and Jarrow Roofing to kick-off New Year with derby on Monday
A South Tyneside derby will kick-off the New Year for non-league football in the borough as South Shields and Jarrow Roofing go head-to-head.
The Durham Challenge Cup second round tie will take place at Mariners Park on Monday, with kick-off at 1pm.
It is one of four home games to start the year for the Mariners, in four different competitions.
They will be aiming for a 10th win in a row in all competitions, ahead of an FA Vase fourth round tie with Morpeth Town next Saturday.
It remains to be seen whether Lee Picton and Graham Fenton will make changes on Monday with the Vase match in mind, but competition for places is high.
Picton insists the selection headaches that creates are very welcome at Mariners Park. He said: “One of the messages we give to the lads is that as well as the competition provided by the opposition, there’s competition from within our own dressing room.
“Gavin Cogdon is back now, which is another massive plus for us.
“Leepaul Scroggins and Barrie Smith missed out on Boxing Day with illness, so they should be available again, and we’ve also got Louis Storey hopefully coming back in the next few weeks.
“There’s a huge amount of competition from within the dressing room itself, and players know that they’ve got to perform whenever they put that shirt on.”
Almost 30,000 fans passed through the turnstiles at Mariners Park in 2016, at an average of more than 1,000 a game.
Despite bitterly cold, windy conditions on Boxing Day, 1,222 supporters turned out to see Shields defeat Penrith 4-1 in Northern League Division One. Picton felt that attendance “spoke volumes”.
He added: “2016 was a fantastic year for the club, and a large part of the success can be put down the amazing support we were given from all the fans who came out in their droves, week-in and week-out.
“To get close to 1,250 on Boxing Day, with the conditions as they were, I thought spoke volumes for the support that we enjoy here.
“We’re now striving as hard as we possibly can to make 2017 as successful as 2016 was.”
Shields striker Gavin Cogdon returned from a lay-off of over two months as a second-half substitute in the win over Penrith.
He is now looking to step up his comeback from the groin injury he picked up in October’s FA Vase victory against Runcorn Linnets with more minutes in Monday’s game.
Cogdon said: “It was a very frustrating period, and it took a long time to recover from the injury.
“I enjoyed watching the lads, though, and we only failed to win one game while I was out. They played some really good football and it was probably the most I’ve ever enjoyed watching football when I’ve been injured.
“Because of the team’s form, I didn’t have to rush back, and have been managed really well.
“I’m really pleased to be back now and the comeback went well against Penrith.
“I didn’t feel the injury one bit, so hopefully I can play a part on Monday.”
As this is a cup fixture, Shields season tickets, as well as junior and corporate season passes, are not valid.
Admission is all pay at the turnstiles, at a cost of £6 for adults, £4 for students and over-65s, and £2 for under-16s.