Match Preview: Atherton Collieries vs South Shields, The Pitching In Northern Premier League
South Shields return to league action on Saturday when they make the journey to Lancashire for a fixture against Atherton Collieries.
The Mariners’ last two games have been in cup competitions, with Sunderland’s Under-23s eliminating them from the Durham Challenge Cup before Marine prevailed in a penalty shootout in the Buildbase FA Trophy last Saturday.
Graham Fenton’s squad have since enjoyed a full week of training as they aim for a return to winning ways at Skuna Stadium.
They go into the match in second place in the Pitching In Northern Premier League, three points behind leaders Matlock Town.
Fenton feels an improvement in the final third will be key for the Mariners if they are to claim maximum points.
He said: “We’ve got more time on the training pitch than anyone else in our league so we’ve been working away at it over the last week.
“All we can ask as a management team is that the lads give it everything they’ve got, and they generally do that.
“The effort levels have certainly been there throughout the season but the know-how is where it needs to improve.
“I’d just like to see a little bit more disguise used in the final third, because we do it on occasions and put defenders on their backsides, but we haven’t been doing it enough.
“When we have chances to put a decent ball into the box often the quality hasn’t been right, and when that quality has been there the movement hasn’t been right.
“We haven’t been managing to piece everything together recently to create lots of goalscoring opportunities and that’s what we’re looking for on Saturday.”
Atherton have been in mixed form themselves, having lost their last four games in all competitions.
Their three league defeats within that sequence have left them 15th, but they have shown their ability on a number of occasions this season.
League leaders Matlock Town are among their scalps, with the Colls having beaten them 2-1 in early October, and motivation is sure to be high in both camps.
Fenton is hoping his team use the dissatisfaction of last week as inspiration for a return to winning ways.
He added: “It’s not nice going out of any competition so there was a lot of disappointment in the dressing room after the game at Marine.
“The only way to put it right is by bouncing back on Saturday against what we know will be another difficult opponent in Atherton.
“We’ll be giving it everything we’ve got to get the three points.”
Shields remain without Jordan Hunter (arm), Joao Gomes (knee) and Will Jenkins (leg) for the 3pm kick-off at Skuna Stadium, which has a post code of M46 9EY.
The Mariners are hoping to have striker JJ Hooper available after he completed a move to the club on the eve of the game, subject to FA clearance.
Admission prices are £10 for adults, £6 for concessions, £4 for under-18s and free for under-11s. No tickets are available to purchase in advance, with entry to be paid for at the turnstiles on matchday.
If you are not able to make it to the game, you can listen to commentary on The Mariners Live Mixlr channel via this link.