FootballNorthern League

Match Preview: Shildon AFC v North Shields

The Robins face their toughest challenge of the season as they travel to County Durham to face Shildon AFC at Dean Street.

After Wednesday’s hard-fought 1-1 draw at Northern League Division One leaders Stockton Town, a positive result away to the team placed just below the Anchors could set Shields up for a positive push towards promotion.

But the challenge the Railwaymen pose to the Robins is great, as they haven’t suffered a defeat in the league since September 25th. Including all league and cup fixtures, Shildon are on a run of five wins on the bounce.

They also boast one of the league’s top strikers in Billy Greulich-Smith, whose hattrick a fortnight ago brushed aside fellow promotion hopefuls Hebburn Town.

Having said that, the Robins will also be heading into this fixture in red-hot form, with the team currently 12 games unbeaten; winning nine and drawing three.

After being short on numbers on Wednesday, manager Marc Nash will be hoping a number of his unavailable players will be available for selection tomorrow.

The Robins were left without a recognised striker midweek as Gareth Bainbridge, Scott McCarthy and Connor Campbell were all unavailable, due to injury, work and sickness, leaving new signing Callum Smith to fill in up front.

Nash was also forced into a goalkeeper change as regular starter Greg Purvis failed an early fitness test, leaving youngster Bradley Skirpan to make his home debut for the club.

On top of that, teenager Jamie Clark was brought into the team for the first time and came off the bench late in the game to help the Robins claim a deserved point.

Whilst a number of those unavailable players are likely to be free for selection, their will still be a question mark over the fitness of Purvis and captain Adam Forster, who picked up an ankle injury during the 3-2 win over Newton Aycliffe.

The last time these two sides met proved to be a very positive evening for the Robins, with goals from Connor Campbell, Paul Van-Zandvliet and Gareth Bainbridge securing a 3-1 home win under the floodlights.

Last season was a closer reflection on how competitive this fixture has been of late as both teams won their respective home game 1-0.

Should Shields win tomorrow, and with results going the right way, they could climb up to fourth in the Division One table, potentially only two points off the final promotion place.

However, a victory for Shildon would see them further pull away from the rest of the pack whilst keeping pressure on first-placed Stockton Town.