South Shields Women hope to start the year brightly as they head north to face Alnwick Town Ladies this Sunday (2pm kick-off).
The Mariners haven’t been in competitive action since mid-November so it is sure to be a longly-awaited return, as the lasses hope to navigate a potential promotion push in the league.
Many of the teams around them have played extra games so Shields will be playing catch-up when it comes to the league table, but when adjusted for points per game, they rank second place as things stand.
Alnwick were the visitors for the Women’s FA Cup tie at 1st Cloud Arena in October and were 1-2 winners thanks to a Megan Sprot brace early on. Eve Gatens’ second half penalty reduced the deficit but the team was unable to find an equaliser.
The hosts have played eight games, winning four, drawing two and losing two. Libby Rees was the hero for The ‘Wick last week as her brace flipped the game against Redcar Town on its head, winning 1-2 down in Teesside.
Head coach Matt Gatiss is desperately looking forward to seeing the team back on the field this weekend.
He said: “We’ve really missed it… the routines, the rhythm of the game, the tempo - it’s really hard to replicate that in training.
“I think the girls have done really well sticking with it. As a coach I get frustrated, you miss it and you feel like you’ve never done it for years and it must be 10 times worse for the players.
“It will be nice to get it in. Nice competitive fixture; when we played them down here it was a great game. We’ve looked at it, we’ve looked at the analysis and hopefully we’ll go up there and get the opposite result.”
The extended winter break has given players a chance to freshen up and there are no injury concerns.
He added: “Everyone’s back, so that’s great news. That’s the one good thing about the winter break: going into some tough games in December originally we had four or five key players injured and the winter period has allowed us to come back.
“They’re all back now in full training, everyone looks sharp and ready.”
Information for supporters
Kick-off at Greensfield (NE66 2DH) is at 2pm this Sunday, January 21st.
Entry is free and we’d welcome any support in-person or online as the lasses continue to make their mark in the NERWFL Premier Division.
Supporters can expect regular updates on social media throughout the day.