South Shields travel to Marske United on Tuesday as two of the Pitching In Northern Premier League’s early pace-setters go head-to-head (7.45pm kick-off).
The Mariners are top of the table and unbeaten, with Marske United in third and one of six teams sitting two points from the summit.
Marske were promoted from the NPL East Division through the play-offs last season and have adapted well to life in the division above in the early weeks of the campaign.
This is set to be the first of two meetings between the teams in four days, with the Seasiders set to visit 1st Cloud Arena in the Emirates FA Cup on Saturday.
Shields manager Kevin Phillips is expecting a difficult encounter in North Yorkshire.
He said: “These are the games you look forward to.
“We’re top of the league but there are six teams just two points behind us, with Marske being one of them, so it will be a tough test for us.
“Every challenge we’ve come up against this season we’ve dealt with, and we’ve got to be the ones that go in with no pressure on us.
“Marske are the home team and it’s up to us to put them under pressure and play our football.”
Shields recorded their third clean sheet in succession on Saturday, but were held to a 0-0 draw by Atherton Collieries in the league.
Phillips was pleased with the efforts of his players at 1st Cloud Arena and although he is aware of a need for improvement in attacking areas, he has backed the team to respond positively on Tuesday.
He added: “We would have liked to have won, but our defensive qualities were there for all to see and our record for goals conceded has been very good so far this season.
“We battled right to the end and when Myles Boney was called on, he did his job.
“We can always play better, but we’re not going to roll every team over and win every match.
“The message to the players is that if we can’t win a game, we don’t lose it.
“I feel we would have lost that game last season, so we’ve made huge strides, and we know what we’re capable of.
“The players have responded well with a positive result on several occasions this season, and hopefully that will be the case again on Tuesday.”
Shields remain without striker JJ Hooper as he continues his recovery from a hamstring injury, but Phillips expects to have an otherwise full-strength squad to choose from.
Information for supporters
Kick-off at Mount Pleasant – which has a post code of TS11 7BW – is at 7.45pm and admission prices are £11 for adults, £6 for those aged 65 and over, 16 to 18-year-olds and students, and £4 for under 16s.
Supporters who are unable to make it to the game can listen to live commentary from Chris May and Ronnie Peet on the Mariners Live Mixlr page via this link.