SOUTH Shields are looking forward to the challenge of facing runaway Northern League Division Two leaders Seaham Red Star tomorrow.
Mark Collingwood’s Red Star are eight points clear at the top of the table, with games in hand, despite losing 2-0 at Washington in midweek.
They look certain to secure promotion in the coming weeks, and they will provide a daunting challenge for Shields at Peterlee.
However, manager Jon King is looking forward to the test, despite being without three key players.
King said: “These are the games the players want to play in, because it’s a big challenge for them.
“Seaham lost to Washington on Tuesday, but I’m sure they’ll go up as champions.
“They have been the best team in this league this season by a distance, and I’m pleased for Colly, as they deserved promotion last season and only missed out because they were deducted points.
“Hopefully, we’ll raise our game against them, and we’ll certainly have a really good go.
“It will certainly be tough, as they’ve got a good bunch of players together and deserve to be top of the table.
“We’ve got three big players missing, with Aron Burn, Michael Turner and Chris Rue all unavailable.
“That gives other people a chance to play, but they will be big misses for us.”
Burn will miss out with a hamstring injury, while Rue has work commitments and Turner is also unavailable.
That means three of Shields’ recent first-choice defensive line-up will miss out against a side which has scored 109 goals in just 33 league games this term.
King, though, has urged his side to show “resilience” as they look to cause an upset and boost their own hopes of climbing the table in the closing weeks of the campaign.
He added: “Going forward is where Seaham are especially strong, as they score lots of goals. That’s their main strength.
“We’re going to have to defend really well, and it’s obviously a blow to be without those three defenders.
“We need to show some resilience, as it’s 11v11 and we can certainly get something out of the game.
“We need to be on our game from the first minute, but it’s certainly a game we are looking forward to playing in.”
Goalkeepers Niki Lawson and Steven Hubery, as well as midfielder Alex Kempster, are expected to return to contention for Shields in the 3pm kick-off at Eden Lane.