South Shields preparing for Mickleover fixture as normal despite uncertainty surrounding game with a crowd of 600 expected

South Shields are continuing to prepare for Saturday's league opener against Mickleover as normal - despite uncertainty surrounding the fixture.
Mariners Park the home of South Shields FC.Mariners Park the home of South Shields FC.
Mariners Park the home of South Shields FC.

The Mariners are awaiting advice from the authorities after Thursday's announcement of increased restrictions in the North East to halt the rise in coronavirus infections.

As it stands the game will take place as planned, with a crowd of 600 expected at 1st Cloud Arena.

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Only season ticket holders and those who snapped up the limited number of tickets which went on general sale on Thursday will be able to attend, although further clarity of that is expected on Friday.

Should the match go ahead, the Mariners will be looking for a strong start as they aim to banish the lingering frustration left by the FA's decision to declare their 2019-20 league campaign null and void when they led the Northern Premier League by 12 points.

That is something joint manager Graham Fenton insists is now firmly behind Shields, and he believes their strength in depth could prove critical heading into the unknown of the months ahead.

He said: "We feel we have huge strength in depth across the whole squad and competition for places is very high.

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"All the players know that any sort of drop in standards will mean there is a high likelihood someone will step into their shoes, and that's a healthy environment to have.

"As everyone will be aware, we felt aggrieved by the decision which was made at the end of last season, but we've firmly put that behind us and are raring to go and improve on our performance to attain that sought-after promotion to National League North.

"We're also hoping to have a successful run in the FA Cup and FA Trophy, and we feel we have the strength in depth to be able to deal with the busy schedule I'm sure will be more likely than in any previous season.

"Let's just hope that a second lockdown period doesn't need to be put in place and that this season can reach its natural conclusion."

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Shields enjoyed a scintillating encounter with Mickleover last season at 1st Cloud Arena, powering to a 5-2 victory after their visitors had battled back from two goals behind.

Alex Kempster could make his competitive debut for the Mariners tomorrow following his move from York City, while Myles Boney and Jordan Hunter - who penned permanent deals with the club in the summer - and Will McCamley, a loan signing from Huddersfield Town, are also in line to play a part.

The highlight of pre-season for Shields was a 3-0 win over National League North side York City, although they were beaten by York's divisional rivals Gateshead in their most recent outing last Saturday.

Shields should have a strong squad to choose from, with Darius Osei and Jon Shaw having both returned to contention over recent weeks, although Luke Daly remains out with his long-term knee injury.

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Kick-off at 1st Cloud Arena is at 3pm and ticket holders will be able to access the ground from 12.30pm, although they are advised to watch for updates ahead of the match in the event circumstances change.