THE PREVIEW | South Shields Vs MTFC - Pitching In NPL - 22.2.22
Matlock Town will make the long trip up north on Tuesday evening to face fellow promotion contenders South Shields in what will be a huge test of the Derbyshire outfit's title credentials.
The Gladiators come into this game without a win in their last three matches. However, a win at South Shields would propel Matlock back to the top of the Northern Premier League Premier Division and give them huge momentum as we reach the business end of the 2021/22 campaign.
South Shields currently sit in third position in the NPL Premier Division but are only two points behind league leaders Buxton and have two games in hand on the Bucks. Matlock Town are sandwiched in between Buxton and South Shields but also have two games in hand on the Bucks. Only three points now separate the top four in the league following Scarborough Athletic's excellent run of form. In South Shields's most recent game, they suffered a surprise 1-0 defeat away at Mickleover in the league. This defeat prevented South Shields from moving to the top of the league. In the team's most recent home game, they beat Atherton Collieries 2-1 in the league. Sam Hodgson and Nathan Lowe scored the goals to secure all three points.
South Shields were founded in 1974 and are nicknamed the Mariners. They play their home games at the 1st Cloud Arena which is situated in the coastal town of South Shields within the county of Tyne and Wear. The stadium can hold up to 3,500 spectators.
Their manager is none other than Sunderland legend and former England international Kevin Phillips. Phillips was only appointed as the new Mariners manager on the 16th of January after the South Shields board decided to sack Graham Fenton in a surprise move. Despite this being his first managerial role, Phillips has coached for a number of years now. After his playing career finished, Phillips worked as Leicester City's assistant manager before moving to Derby County in the same role. Phillips also went on to work as a coach for Stoke City. His playing days included many highlights in an excellent career. He's a hero at Sunderland where he ended up winning the European Golden Shoe, the Premier League Player of the Year and the Premier League Golden Boot award following an outstanding 1999-2000 season. Phillips also has the notable distinction of winning promotion to the Premier League on five occasions with five different teams. He also went on to make eight appearances for England's senior team.
South Shields are the only full-time club in the NPL Premier Division.
The last piece of silverware they lifted was the Northern Premier League Division One North league title in the 2017-18 season. The Mariners also won the FA Vase in the 2016-17 campaign.
South Shields were comfortably clear at the top of the NPL Premier Division in the 2019-20 campaign when the season was brought to a halt by the beginning of the Covid pandemic. The decision to null and void the entire league rather than end the season based on 'points per game' prevented South Shields from winning the league title and getting promoted to the National League North which caused plenty of controversy and outraged the club.
One of the club's honorary presidents is none other than Little Mix singer Jade Thirlwall!
One to Watch
24 year-old forward Cedric Main will be a key player to keep an eye out for on Tuesday evening.
Main was born in Suriname and also holds Dutch citizenship. The striker has scored two goals in South Shields's last six games.
The striker joined South Shields from FC United of Manchester in October of this season.
Centre-half Ryan Qualter is suspended for Tuesday night's game and will not be available for selection.
Midfielder Alex Wiles picked up a hamstring injury in the game at Whitby Town and will need to be assessed ahead of the game to see if he will be available for selection. Ioan Evans may also need to be assessed after picking up a leg injury while striker Jack Hindle is working hard to become fully fit.
South Shields won 1-0 in the reverse fixture between these two teams on October 16 at The Proctor Cars Stadium this season.
Darius Osei scored the only goal of the game in the 62nd minute in front of a bumper crowd of 1,364.