South Shields aim to step up promotion bid against Radcliffe FC

Louis Storey rises for a challenge in South Shields' draw at Hyde United on Tuesday. Picture by Kev Wilson.
Louis Storey rises for a challenge in South Shields' draw at Hyde United on Tuesday. Picture by Kev Wilson.

Joint manager Lee Picton says confidence in the South Shields camp is high as they bid for a third successive promotion.

The Mariners are at home to Radcliffe tomorrow as they bid to maintain their place at the top of the Evo-Stik North Division.

Tuesday’s 1-1 draw at Hyde United left Shields two points clear of Scarborough Athletic at the top, and three ahead of Hyde.

Picton was impressed with the levels the Mariners reached at Ewen Fields, particularly in the second half, and believes if they regularly replicate that performance over the coming weeks, they will get their rewards.

He said: “There are still lots of games to be played and I’m sure points will be dropped by most of the teams up there.

“We’ve just got to keep focusing on ourselves.

“If we can match the quality of play we showed in the second half on Tuesday from here on in, I’ll be really surprised if we drop too many points between now and the end of the season.”

Tomorrow’s match will be the first meeting between Shields and 16th-placed Radcliffe this season.

There are 35 points between the teams going into the fixture, but Picton insists there will be no complacency from his side.

He added: “We definitely can’t be complacent.

“Time and time again this season, we’ve seen the quality in depth that there is in this league, and we can’t take any opponent lightly.

“The pleasing aspect about tomorrow’s game is that it’s at home, and we look forward to playing on what will be a fantastic surface.

“Our vice-chairman, Gary Crutwell, has done an absolutely amazing job with it and it has held up really well so far.”

Tuesday’s match saw Shields go toe-to-toe with one of the league’s form teams, with Hyde boasting a formidable home record.

Picton is hopeful the point his team picked up will prove to be valuable.

He said: “A point away from home against the second-placed team should normally be considered good.

“Come the end of the season, hopefully it will prove to be that, although, on the balance of play, I thought we probably deserved a little bit more than a draw.

“Our second-half performance, in particular, was very good, and we played some fantastic stuff.

“We were really proud of the performance on Tuesday, when we showed what we’re all about as a side.”

Lee Mason could make his home debut for the Mariners tomorrow, having joined from North Shields a week ago.

Gavin Cogdon is a doubt as he steps up his comeback from a hamstring injury, and there are also doubts over Jamie Holmes and Matty Pattison. Anthony Callaghan will again miss out with a back injury.

Kick-off at Mariners Park is at 3pm, with admission – to be paid at the turnstiles – costing £8 for adults, £6 for students and over-65s, and £2 for under-16s.