Fireworks predicted ahead of 'feisty' clash between South Shields and Morpeth Town
Graham Fenton is predicting a “feisty affair” as South Shields and Morpeth Town lock horns in an eagerly-awaited derby clash on Tuesday.
Shields are aiming to end a run of three games without a win when the North East rivals go head-to-head at 1st Cloud Arena in the Northern Premier League.
They know they face a difficult task against Morpeth, though, with the Highwaymen unbeaten in seven in all competitions since Craig Lynch took over as caretaker manager in September.
The Mariners, sitting second in the table, still enjoy an 18-point advantage over their neighbours heading into Tuesday’s match, with a big crowd expected to cheer them on.
Shields manager Fenton said: “It’s always a feisty affair against Morpeth.
“They’ve got good players in their team so we know what we need to do if we are to get maximum points.
“It’s going to be a tough task, as it will be for them as well, but we’re looking to put on a really positive performance and try our best to get the three points.”
Shields were beaten 1-0 at home by Basford United on Saturday and trail league leaders Matlock Town by three points.
They travel to Matlock on Saturday, so the importance of returning to winning ways against Morpeth is clear.
Although disappointed by the result at the weekend, Fenton took positives from the performance of his players and feels they are in good shape to find some form.
He added: “Hopefully the supporters who came on Saturday saw that the lads put a shift in and put a lot of energy into that game.
“There were some real improvements from the previous two performances, but ultimately we fell short in terms of a lack of quality at the top end.
“We’ll be giving it everything on Tuesday to find that bit of extra quality.”
Shields remain without Joao Gomes (knee), Will Jenkins (leg) and Jordan Hunter (arm), with Ntumba Massanka also unavailable as he serves the second match of a three-game suspension.
The Mariners may have tasted defeat in their last two outings, but Fenton insists he has faith in them to quickly turn things around – and that they should have that belief in themselves.
He said: “It’s about them having confidence in themselves and the game is hugely dependent on that.
“It’s dependent on you having belief as an individual and in the team overall.
“We’ve had a setback over the last 10 days but that was always going to happen at some point.
“We’ve got to bear in mind that this is a young squad and they’re learning on the job.
“They’ll make mistakes and they were punished on Saturday, but we move onto the next game and will be giving it everything to get three points.”
Kick-off at 1st Cloud Arena on Tuesday is at 7.45pm and admission prices 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 bought in advance from Shields’ website, www.southshieldsfc.co.uk.