South Shields are just one win away from securing the league title – but have been warned Crook Town will be out to spoil the party tomorrow.
The Mariners, having already wrapped up promotion to Northern League Division One, are on the verge of sealing the championship.
We get told before every game that it’s the other team’s cup final and they want to spoil our partyBarrie Smith
Sitting on 98 points, Jon King’s side are well clear of second-placed Ryhope CW, and only an unlikely collapse will see them lose grip of the trophy now.
However, with three fixtures left to play, Shields know from experience that no team is going to let them win without a fight.
That is a message being pressed home in the Mariners’ dressing room, as popular right-back Barrie Smith reveals.
He said: “We’re confident, but we’ve got to be on our game. We get told before every game that it’s the other team’s cup final and they want to spoil our party.
“There’s no way that Crook are going to lie down and let us win the league.
“We’ve got to be on our game, do things properly and be professional about what we do. I have no doubt that the lads will do that, because they know what’s at stake, and I think we’ll get a good show.”
Shields have defeated Crook 5-0 twice this season, most recently last month.
However, under new boss Colin Myers, they will be looking to end the season on a high point, and would see the scalp of the Mariners as a good place to start.
They go into tomorrow’s game 18th in the table, and Shields first-team coach Mark Scott knows life will be made difficult for his side tomorrow.
He said: “It’s always tough at Crook. They always give you a game, and they’ll fight and scrap. It’s a good ground to play at – a proper old Northern League ground.
“It will be a tough test for us, but we’ll be up for it.
“Our heavy wins over Crook earlier this season mean nothing at all now.
“It’s a brand new game, and we’ve got to take the match that’s in front of us and stamp our authority on it.”
Shields go into the game on a high having beaten South Tyneside neighbours Hebburn Town 2-0 on Tuesday in front of a record Mariners Park crowd of 1,827.
Tomorrow’s game at Millfield, which has a post code of DL15 9PW, is at 3pm, and Shields will still be without the injured Wayne Phillips.