Teams all set for eagerly-awaited Shields derby
One of the most eagerly-awaited Northern League games in recent years takes place on South Tyneside tomorrow as South Shields take on North Shields in a crunch derby.
A crowd topping 2,000 is expected at Mariners Park after advance tickets for the fixture sold out.
The attendance is almost certain to beat the ground record, which was set in April as Shields defeated Hebburn Town 2-0 in front of a crowd of 1,827.
The two Shields clubs occupy the top two slots in Northern League Division One.
North are top, five points clear of South having played two games more.
Mariners joint manager Graham Fenton will be going up against his old club for the first time since crossing the Tyne in September.
He enjoyed a hugely successful time at North Shields, winning the FA Vase, Northumberland Senior Cup and Northern League Division Two during a four-and-a-half-year spell.
And he is looking forward to locking horns with some old friends tomorrow.
He said: “I’ve been really looking forward to it.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my time at North Shields and I’m looking forward to seeing a few people.
“We know it’s a huge occasion and the crowd is going to be massive, and these are the games you should relish.
“It will be a difficult one for us, because North Shields are a very good side.
“I know quite a bit about the lads there, but we went and watched them again in midweek against Morpeth.
“We’ve got to get out of the blocks quickly, but our lads are confident that we can take on anyone in this league and get a positive result.”
North Shields were beaten 2-0 at Morpeth Town in midweek, which was just their second league loss of the season so far.
The Mariners, meanwhile, have won their last eight in all competitions, the most recent of which was a 2-0 victory at Bishop Auckland last Saturday.
Fenton added: “We were really satisfied with last week’s game.
“Bishop Auckland isn’t an easy place to go, because they’ve got some really good players and their home form was good going into the match.
“In the second half, in particular, I thought we kept the ball really well and killed the game, so we were delighted to come out of it in the way we did.
“Our training sessions this week haven’t been massively heavy, because we wanted to get the lads rested up and get a couple recovered.
“We’re going to have real difficulty picking the side, because obviously people are doing really, really well when you’ve won eight on the trot.”
Shields go into the game without the injured Gavin Cogdon (groin) and Louis Storey (leg).
Kick-off is at 3pm and it is at this stage unclear whether any cash turnstiles will be in operation. That is likely to be announced today.