'Full of confidence' - Kevin Phillips previews South Shields' clash with Marine

South Shields are aiming to strengthen their position at the top of the Northern Premier League in their first home game of 2023 on Saturday.

Marine are the visitors to 1st Cloud Arena in a battle of the Mariners, with Shields having won six of their last eight games to establish a three-point lead at the summit of the table. Their opponents on Saturday are sixth in their first season since winning promotion, and held Shields to a 2-2 draw in the reverse fixture in August.

Manager Kevin Phillips says Shields are “full of confidence” after Monday’s 1-0 win over rivals Morpeth Town. He said: “We start the calendar year where we want to be, at the top of the table and off the back of a brilliant derby win.

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“The squad is in a very good place at the moment and feeling full of confidence. We’re delighted with the season we’ve had so far and now it’s time to push on in the weeks ahead.

South Shields boss Kevin PhillipsSouth Shields boss Kevin Phillips
South Shields boss Kevin Phillips

“We’re aiming to give our supporters - who have turned out in their droves every week - lots more to shout about between now and the end of April.”

Phillips is wary of the threat posed by Marine, who received international attention when they reached the third round of the FA Cup in the 2020-21 season before being beaten by Tottenham Hotspur. He added: “Marine have had an impressive season after winning promotion last time out, and we look back on our 2-2 draw at their place in August as a game of two halves.

“We completely dominated the first 45 minutes but just couldn’t get a second goal to make our lead more comfortable, and they proved to be a different proposition after the break. Although they were beaten on Monday, Marine are in good form and will be looking to bounce back this weekend.

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“I’m sure they will be fully motivated to take points from us, as all teams are, but we’ve dealt with that kind of challenge well so far this season and have had a good amount of time to prepare.”

South Shields begin the clash with Marine top of the tableSouth Shields begin the clash with Marine top of the table
South Shields begin the clash with Marine top of the table

Shields are hoping to have a clean bill of health for the 3pm kick-off at 1st Cloud Arena. Supporters are able to pay for entry at the turnstiles, which admission priced at £12 for adults, £9 for over-65s and students, £5 for children aged 13 to 16, and £3 for under-16s.

Meanwhile, teenage defender Alfie Marriott has joined Shildon on a 28-day loan after signing a contract with the Mariners.

The 18-year-old has impressed at Academy level for Shields this season, and made his first-team debut in an FA Trophy tie away to Warrington Town.

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Phillips said: “Alfie has hugely impressed us when he has trained with the first-team, and he is certainly one for the future. We feel we have a real talent on our hands, and he is definitely a player we believe will be challenging strongly for a place in the squad and starting 11 in the future.”