Non-League Day: Bumper crowd expected for South Shields v Radcliffe amid promotion battle
Non-League Day pits the Northern Premier League’s top two against each other, with the Mariners holding a commanding 13-point lead going into it.
However, Radcliffe have a game in hand on their hosts and know that victory in South Tyneside would raise the prospect of a late charge for the title.
Shields go into the match with great confidence, though, having beaten another promotion rival, Hyde United, 1-0 last Saturday.
Manager Kevin Phillips has called on his players to relish the occasion.
He said: “It’s fantastic to be involved in such a big match to fit the occasion of Non-League Day.
“I said to the players before the Hyde game that these are the sort of matches you want to be involved in and why you became footballers.
“They really stood up to the test last weekend and now we have a similar challenge on Saturday, but as I often say, it’s mainly about what we do.
“We’re the home team and the onus is on us to start on the front foot with high intensity levels from minute one until minute 94 or 95.
“If we do that, our quality should always shine through and we will have an opportunity to get a positive result.”
Phillips is also aware of the importance of the crowd, with the Mariners hoping to attract their highest attendance of the season on Non-League Day.
He said: “Our fans have helped us magnificently all season, home and away, and I’m sure it will be raised to even greater levels on Saturday.
“They make such a difference to the players, and probably don’t even know themselves the kind of impact they make.
“I’d like to urge them to make more noise than ever before to make it an incredible atmosphere for the players to hopefully thrive in.”
The Mariners have even more motivation after tasting defeat in their last home game, against FC United.
Phillips added: “Radcliffe are in great form and will be full of confidence, but we are well prepared and know what’s at stake.
“If we apply ourselves in the right way we have an excellent chance of winning any game, and this one is no different.
“The FC United match showed that if you don’t get things right, you can be undone, and we certainly don’t want to be experiencing those sorts of emotions again.”
Shields are hoping to have a near full-strength squad to select from and have been bolstered by the arrival of Harry Gardiner on loan from Sunderland.
The 19-year-old striker will spend the remainder of the season with the Mariners after completing his temporary switch.
Kick-off at 1st Cloud Arena is at 3pm and admission prices are £12 for adults, £9 for students and over-65s, £5 for children aged 13 to 16 and £3 for children aged 12 and under.
Tickets can be purchased in advance or from the turnstiles, which open at 12.30pm.