Graham Fenton has called for ruthlessness from his league-leading South Shields players heading into Saturday’s trip to Mickleover Sports – which is subject to an 8.30am pitch inspection.
The Mariners have won 11 and drawn two of their last 13 games in the Evo-Stik Premier Division to move to the top of the table.
One of those 11 victories came against Saturday’s opponents at Mariners Park in November, although Mickleover pushed them all the way before falling to a 3-2 defeat.
Shields’ last outing saw them beat Whitby Town 5-2 on Saturday and some may look at Mickleover’s position of third-bottom and expect them to suffer the same fate.
Joint manager Fenton, though, is not prepared to fall into the trap of complacency.
When asked if his players would have a different mentality now they are top of the league, rather than chasing down teams above them, he said: “We certainly don’t think so, although teams can change their mindset in this situation.
“We’ve been exceptional over recent weeks and ruthless.
“We’ve been really good at closing that gap to the top teams and overtaking them, and we’ve got to have the same mindset.
“We’ve just got to go into each and every game and try to win it as best as we can, and we’ll see where we finish at the end of the season.”
Shields are hoping Saturday’s game will get the go-ahead, although there will be a pitch inspection at 8.30am.
Should it go ahead, Fenton is expecting a tough match against a Mickleover side which has won six times at home this season.
He added: “They’ve got a decent home record and caused us some problems at Mariners Park.
“It will be a completely different game to the Whitby one and we’ll have to change our style.
“We’ll have to be effective with what we do and try our best to come out with maximum points.”
Captain Jon Shaw is hoping to be available after suffering a groin injury in last week’s game against Whitby
Carl Finnigan, Barrie Smith and Anthony Callaghan continue to miss out with their injuries.
Kick-off at Mickleover Sports Club – which has a post code of DE3 9FB – is at 3pm.
Graham Fenton told of South Shields’ long-standing admiration of new boy Luke Daly after revealing the midfielder had snubbed interest from elsewhere to join the Mariners.
Daly played twice against Shields last season for former club Droylsden, impressing on both occasions.
His performances caught the eye of Fenton and fellow joint manager Lee Picton, and when the opportunity came to bring the 22-year-old to Mariners Park, they seized it.
Daly had interest from clubs higher up the pyramid but opted to join former Burnley team-mate Nathan Lowe at Shields.
Fenton was delighted to seal his signature.
He said: “Luke is someone we’ve admired from a distance for a couple of years, so we’re delighted to be able to bring him into the club.
“We’re looking for him to compliment the players we already have and are confident he will do that.
“He has had interest from other clubs at higher levels and it shows the status of our club at the moment that we can attract someone who could have chosen to play for a side higher up the pyramid.”
Fenton and Picton were already fans of Daly, and their views of the player were strengthened after speaking with his former team-mate Lowe.
Fenton added: “We spoke to Nathan Lowe, who played with Luke at Burnley a few years ago, and he couldn’t speak highly enough of him.
“Luke did well against us in two games last season and caught our eye, particularly in the away match on what was an awful pitch on the day.
“He really stood out and caused us some big problems through the midfield area.
“He’ll bring real quality and athleticism to our midfield and give us more options and more competition for places, which is always going to be healthy.”
Daly took part in his first training session with his new team-mates on Thursday, and has already impressed the management.
Fenton said: “We were delighted with the start he made in training on Thursday.
“He looked really sharp and showed real quality on the ball.
“His ability to get around the pitch was evident in training so we’re really looking forward to seeing him put the South Shields shirt on.”
Droylsden, meanwhile, paid tribute to their former player on Twitter.
Match secretary Bryan Pace said: “Sorry to see you move on Luke but also pleased we may have helped you find your way in football again. All the best at South Shields.”
The club itself tweeted: “We are sure that everyone at the club wishes all the best to Luke Daly, who has today agreed terms with South Shields FC. All the best and thanks for the memories.”
Former Burnley and Manchester United youngster Luke Daly has completed a move to South Shields.
The midfielder has joined from Droylsden and goes straight into contention for Saturday’s game at Mickleover Sports.
Daly, 22, spent almost 10 years in Manchester United’s academy before a three-year spell at Burnley, one of which was as a professional.
He then signed for Droylsden and caught the eye as a standout player with the club, including in two matches against Shields last season.
Daly is enthused by the challenge ahead at Mariners Park.
He said: “I feel very excited to be here because it’s a big club and you can see how it’s moving forward.
“It’s something I want to be involved in.
“The style of play here suits me and I know what to expect, having played against the club twice last season.
“The way they pass it and the way they move off the ball is brilliant, and I want to be a part of that.
“The fanbase here is also fantastic and you can’t beat playing in front of crowds like that, so I can’t wait to get going.”
Signing for Shields has seen Daly link up with former Burnley team-mate Nathan Lowe.
The pair are good friends and will travel to training and games together from Lancashire.
Daly added: “I used to live with Nathan and he’s a good lad.
“He’s one of my good friends and we know how to play together in midfield.
“We’ll work well with each other and it will be great to play alongside him again.
“When Nathan found out I might be coming here he called me straightaway, and it was good to speak to him and get some insights into what the club is about.
“I already knew anyway, having played against them, but it was good to strengthen those thoughts by speaking with him.”
Daly took part in his first training session with the Mariners on Thursday – and admits the quality of the session made him ‘feel like a pro again’.
He said: “It was good to be involved with the lads and meet them for the first time.
“The intensity of the training made me feel like I was a pro again, so it was good.
“The club has had so much success over recent years, and hopefully we can keep progressing each year and climbing the pyramid.