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Brighouse braced for Shields invasion

Jon Shaw in possession for Shields. Picture by Peter Talbot.
Jon Shaw in possession for Shields. Picture by Peter Talbot.

BRIGHOUSE TOWN are expecting their biggest gate of the season when well supported league leaders South Shields visit the Yorkshire Payments Stadium on Saturday (3.0).

A crowd of 1,776 saw Town lose the away fixture 5-0 on a red-hot Tuesday night at Mariners Park in August.

That figure has been bettered on many occasions since in league and cup games as the north east club have surged to the top ahead of Bamber Bridge, with only one defeat at Colwyn Bay and a draw.

They are jointly managed by Graham Fenton and Lee Picton, who took them to a runaway title success in the EBAC Northern League Division One last season.

The side’s momentum has continued in Evo-Stik NPL Division One North and they have two very experienced players in former FC Halifax Town striker Jon Shaw and ex-Sunderland and Middlesbrough midfielder or wing-back Julio Arca.

Shaw, 34, was a striker in his days at The Shay and banged in 20 goals in 37 appearances.

Shaw is now a Mariners’ central defender, while Argentinian Arca, 36, played 36 times for Argentine Juniors before making 157 appearances for Sunderland and then 160 for Middlesbrough.

Town’s game at Clitheroe last Saturday fell foul of the weather. The referee called it off at 10am with the ground described as rock hard and snow falling at the Shawbridge ground.

Town manager Vill Powell said: “With the games due to come thick and fast over the Christmas period, and with us looking to build momentum, it was disappointing that Saturday’s game was called off. Now all our focus turns to the league leaders and favourites South Shields, who have continued their fine form all season.

“I am under no illusions on how tough Saturday will be and we will have to be at the top of our game and firing on all cylinders with the quality they have at their disposal.

“If we work harder than them and perform in the manner and with the attitude we have in recent games and in training, I am certain we can get a positive result.”

A handful of players have been allowed to move on in search of more game time.

Powell said: “We need to have players here that are up for the battle and want to succeed long term at the club and get us up the table.

“In an era where players are prepared to move on for an extra £10 it’s important that we have players that want to do it for the badge and their team mates and we have that now with the core group of players.

“We started off with a big squad to ensure we had cover in all positions at times of need but we also needed to get the work ethic all over the pitch and with this group we now have that.

“It’s a tighter group that all get on, just a very tight group of honest lads prepared to dig in for each other and the club and fight to keep their shirt week-to-week. To compensate for a smaller squad I have developed a relationship with AFC Emley manager Joe Hawson, who has dual-registered players like Tim Wallace, Jacob Buchanan and George Clarke. That has allowed for Callum Hall to come in the opposite direction.

“This relationship is one that will grow and will enable us to keep our players fit and get game time.”

A FRUSTRATING few weeks have left Brighouse Town Ladies playing the waiting game.

They are in the less than ideal situation of still trying to play their FA Women’s Cup game against Wolves at the Yorkshire Payments Stadium.

The game has been postponed twice and rearranged for this Sunday (1.0).

Manager Rob Mitchell will be hoping to finally get the game out of the way so he can focus on the league, a competition they are doing well in but may now face a fixture backlog.

“It’s not ideal but we can’t control the weather and at this time of year it’s to be expected,” said Mitchell.