Stockton Town travel to the Daren Persson Stadium, affectionately known to the locals as “The Morgue,” having put their disappointing FA Cup exit behind them with an excellent draw away to Hebburn Town and a win on the road to Sunderland RCA in mid-week. The undefeated Anchors travel to a North Shields side who have yet to register a win in any competition so far.
Stockton have adopted a three at the back system this season and with great success as they head into Saturday’s game boasting the division’s joint best defensive record. However, Town could be without several of the players who have helped them make the shift in formation so effective. Right wing-back Pete Bulmer bagged his first of the season at RCA on Tuesday but he is likely to miss the trip to North Shields. Dale Mulligan misses out through suspension, whilst captain Adam Nicholson is also unavailable for the game. With the fixture coming too soon for Jordan Nicholson to make his competitive Anchors debut, a selection headache is left for caretaker coaches Jason Hamilton and John Fielding, who will lead Stockton for the final time before the return of Michael Dunwell and JD Briggs.
James Risbrough has impressed since stepping into the heart of the defence at Hebburn and will likely be called upon again to fill a similar role on Saturday. He is likely to be joined by veteran defender Alan Cossavella, who found himself in the wars at times on Tuesday night but was impressive in his return to the starting lineup.
A blossoming understanding between forwards Mikey Roberts and Sonni Coleman has seen the pair score four goals between them in the previous two fixtures and they’ll be looking to add to their growing tally on Saturday.
North Shields were handed a similarly difficult opening to the season but have not negotiated the choppy waters to quite the success that the Anchors have.
Heading in to their fifth successive season in the Northern League’s top flight, North Shield have become accustomed to competing at the top end of the division. They followed up three consecutive top five finishes, during which they lifted the FA Vase in 2015, with a respectable eighth place last term and maintain high hopes for another positive push for honours this season.
Despite their pedigree, they have endured a winless start to the season in all competitions. A disappointing opening to the league campaign, which began with three consecutive defeats at the hands of Bishop Auckland, Ashington and Blyth AFC, was compounded by crashing out of the FA Cup away to Consett.
The Robins did show a glimpse of a return to the sort of football the league has grown to expect from them last time out. An 88th minute wonder goal secured them their first point of the season in a 3-3 draw away to much-fancied Hebburn Town on Tuesday night.
Video credit – North Shields FC TV
One to watch – Paul Robinson
A mercurial attacking midfield, who boasts Darlington, Blyth Spartans and Whitley Bay amongst his former clubs, Robinson demonstrated the danger and quality he poses on Tuesday night. With the game seemingly ebbing away from North Shields, his stunning goal from the half way line two minutes from time got his side up and running in the league.
Robinson has enjoyed a decorated career that saw him lift three FA Vases during his time at Whitley Bay. His ability to score goals from midfield has long caught the eyes of some of the region’s top non-league clubs and despite entering into the twilight of his time as a player, he has demonstrated he still has the ability to make the headlines at this level.
The Tale Of The Tape
Last time out…
Shields enjoyed a winning record over Stockton last season, winning two of the three fixtures between the sides. A 4-1 hammering at “The Morgue” would be The Anchors’ sixth consecutive defeat in a run which would see them open their league season as a Northern League Division One club with eight straight losses.
Stockton would get their revenge on the road in January in the League Cup third round. A last minute winner from Adam Nicholson followed a Jamie Owens equaliser as Stockton came from behind to secure their passage to the next round with an excellent 2-1 away win.
The rubber match would come just ten days later when Stockton welcomed North Shields to the Coverall Stadium for the first time. The Anchors had put their rocky start behind them and begun to establish themselves in the division by this time. Despite their turnaround, Stockton were unable to prevent The Robins from taking the points north and found themselves on the end of a 3-1 reverse.
League Performance – The Last Five Years
2013/14 – Northern League Division Two – Champions
2014/15 – Northern League Division One – 4th (FA Vase Winners)
2015/16 – Northern League Division One – 5th (Northumberland Cup Winners)
2016/17 – Northern League Division One – 3rd
2017/18 – Northern League Division One – 8th
2013/14 – Wearside League – Winners
2014/15 – Wearside League – Winners
2015/16 – Wearside League – Winners
2016/17 – Northern League Division Two – Winners
2017/18 – Northern League Division One – 6th (FA Vase Runners-Up)
North Shields – Ryan Carr 2 (1 League, 1 FA Cup)
Stockton Town – Mikey Roberts 3 (All league)
North Shields vs Stockton Town is a 3pm kick off at the Daren Persson Stadium (NE29 0LH).
By Daniel List @DanList_