The Northern Premier League title race will take another turn this weekend when second placed Warrington Town travel to third placed South Shields in a mouth watering encounter at Mariners’ Park.
In some respects this fixture comes at just the wrong time for a South Shield’s side whose form seems to have slipped over the past week.
On Saturday the Mariners lost their extraordinary 100% home record in the league after falling victim to a late rally from Bamber Bridge, before Lee Picton’s side fell to a damaging defeat at struggling Grantham Town on Tuesday.
These results have left South Shields sitting two points adrift of both Warrington and league leaders Farsley Celtic.
Nevertheless, Picton is determined to make sure his side return to winning ways this weekend.
The Mariners boss told the Shields Gazette,“You can’t say at this stage of the season that it’s an absolute must-win game, but we’ve got to do everything we can to go and get three points because if we keep slipping up, things will be taken away from us.
“We can’t let ourselves get into that position where we have too much of a mountain to climb. “We’ve dusted ourselves down and go into tonight’s game with a fresh mindset as we look to start a new run.”
We’ve had to dust ourselves down. “There are 14 games still to go and I’m sure there’ll be many twists and turns between now and the end of the season.
“We’re no longer in the coveted position of having things in our own hands.
“If you look at where we were three or four months ago and the amount of ground we’ve made up in that time, we’ve got to go and put another big run together to try to amass the maximum number of points possible so that hopefully come the end of it we’re where want to be.”
Meanwhile, Warrington come into Saturday’s game on the back of three straight victories and the Wire will be looking for a repeat performance from when they comfortably beat South Shields 3-0 at Cantilever Park back in September.
Paul Carden’s side have set themselves up as a team that are difficult to break down, which is demonstrated by the fact they have only conceded 20 times in their 29 games, by far the best defensive record in the Northern Premier League.
However, when speaking to the local press earlier this week, Carden instead emphasised his team’s attacking strength by praising the recent performances of striker Josh Amis, who netted twice in last weekend’s 3-1 win over Hednesford United to take his tally for the season to 12 overall.
Carden told the Warrington Guardian, “On current form, there won’t be many better strikers in the league than Josh.
“My challenge to him a few games ago was for him to get 10 between now and the end of the season.
“He’s got a few since I said that so I want 10 more from him.
“He’s more than capable because he’s a handful in the box and when someone’s running alongside him, he throws them out of the way.
“Hopefully he can maintain the form he’s showing because if he does, he can be a really big player for us.
“Josh is full of confidence. He’s a great lad to have around the place.
“He’s a great team player. When we played at Witton and we brought him off the bench, he showed the other side of his game in helping us defend our box.
“He showed that again on Saturday when they were loading our box.
“He’s flying at the minute and I’m made up for him.”