By Daniel Prince
South Shields will go in search of a fifth successive victory tonight (Tuesday) when they make the trip to Alnwick Town in Ebac Northern League Division Two.
Saturday’s 4-1 win at Willington left Shields level on points at the top of the table with three teams, and with a perfect record since losing the opening game of the season to Northallerton Town.
First-team coach Mark Scott feels the Mariners need to “manage games a little bit better”, having fallen behind in three of their five fixtures so far.
He said: “By all accounts, we’re going to be facing a tough one tonight.
“I think Alnwick have got some good players, including some First Division players, who have stepped down.
“They’re quite a tidy side, but we hope it’s a nice pitch up there, and it should suit us.
“It’s going to be a tough one, and we’ve got a tough Bank Holiday weekend as well.
“We’re in the business of winning points, and we need to be able to probably manage games a little bit better to make it easier for us to do that.”
One of the major positives so far this season has been the way Shields have grown the longer games have gone on, and Scott is confident that is a pattern which will continue.
He added: “I’ve said it a few times that we’ll win games in the last 20 minutes, and the players need to realise that, and not panic or get carried away in games.
“We’ll win games in the last 20 minutes because our fitness is good, and our ball retention should be good.
“We’re making teams work hard in the game, and our overall quality should show in the last 20 minutes when legs tire.
“Wazza (Warren Byrne) is the epitome of that. That one chance that comes along, he’ll take it. He comes alive in the box.”
Scott has asked for patience as Shields continue to try and find the right formula.
He said: “People need to realise that it’s a work in progress still.
“We’re a brand new team, everyone needs to remember, and we are still trying things.
“We’re giving people chances, and players sometimes need to come out of the side to give others chances. They might not have done much wrong, but it’s a squad game for us, and we’re still working out our best formula. It will take a little bit of time.
“We need to work on things on the training pitch, which we are doing, but with all the midweek games we’ve got at the moment, we can only train once a week.
“We’re constantly getting better, but it will take time. The important thing is that while that’s happening, we keep taking points.
“We did that again on Saturday for our fourth win in a row, and we need to keep doing that. We need to be good enough to go and win games while that process keeps improving.”
Shields will be without the injured David Foley for tonight’s 7.45pm kick-off at Alnwick’s St James’ Park. The post code of the ground is NE66 1BG. The 40-mile journey to face last season’s 16th-place finishers starts with a trip through the Tyne Tunnel on the A19. In North Tyneside, follow the A19 until you reach the A1, which you should follow until you get to Willowburn Avenue, in Alnwick. You should then take the A1068 exit and continue on Willowburn Avenue Drive to St James’ Estate, where you will find the ground. For details on how to attend via public transport, click here.