Esh Winning Preview
By Daniel Prince
South Shields play their second away game in three days tomorrow (Monday) when they travel to Esh Winning.
It will be the Mariners’ final away fixture of the season, and Jon King’s side will hope to end a run of four straight defeats in Ebac Northern League Division Two.
Shields go into the game on the back of a 2-1 loss at Whickham on Saturday, and will be up against an Esh side sitting 20th in the table, with just one win in their last six games.
Mariners manager Jon King is taking nothing for granted, though, against a team his side beat 4-1 at Peterlee in November.
He said: “It will certainly be a tough game at Esh Winning.
“They are near the bottom of the table, will be fighting for the points and are not going to give up easily. Hopefully we can go there and show superiority.
“It’s a big game, and hopefully we can get the three points.”
After the trip to Esh Winning, Shields will end the season with three home games, with Birtley, Ryton & Crawcrook and Stokesley set to visit Peterlee.
King is targeting maximum points as he looks to end the season ‘on a positive’.
He added: “We want to win all four of the games left, but the fact the games are winnable on paper means nothing.
“You could get fantastic points against the top sides and lose against the poorer sides.
“Washington have got a very good side and are going to win promotion, and we actually dominated them, yet we couldn’t beat Alnwick, so it doesn’t work like that.
“On paper, it’s games we can win, but if you’re not right mentally, they can go the other way.
“Hopefully we can start the last four games with a good win on Monday, and let’s go on a winning run to finish the season on a positive.
“We’ve had some big highs this season and some big downs – it has been an up and down season – but let’s see if we can get a positive result on Monday.
“The squad will be at its strongest, other than Michael Turner, who came off with the flu on Saturday and is going on trial to Fleetwood.
“Barrie Smith is a slight doubt with a groin injury, but hopefully he’ll be OK.”
Despite the loss at Whickham on Saturday, King saw some positive signs, and is hopeful they will be built on at Esh Winning.
He said: “There was a big improvement from the game against Alnwick at Whickham.
“The front two – Stephen Ramsey and Paul Kane – didn’t deserve to be on the losing side, and were always a threat, especially in the first half.
“They were big, strong and played well as a two, and they were in a battle with their centre halves.
“Young Ryan Bolam as well, at just 17-year-old, I thought he was excellent again.
“As a team, we need to try and get a 70, 80 or 90 minute performance in. On Saturday, we had a 45-50 minute performance at the level we needed, and we need to be getting a little bit more minutes out of the team.”
Kick-off at Esh Winning’s West Terrace is at 3pm.