Jon Shaw on belief in Shields camp heading into Mickleover game
South Shields captain Jon Shaw is expecting their winning run to be given a stern test when they host Mickleover Sports on Saturday.
Shields are seeking a sixth victory in a row in all competitions and will start as favourites at Mariners Park against a Mickleover side which sits 18th in the table.
Shaw knows Mickleover manager John McGrath from their time as team-mates at Burton Albion, and predicts a difficult encounter for the Mariners.
He said: “This is a game we’re looking forward to.
“With the break-up of league games because of the cups, we want to get some points on the board.
“If we can win it will be six on the spin and we’ll be climbing back up the league, but Mickleover will be a dangerous side.
“I played with their manager at Burton Albion and I know a few of the lads who play for them.
“They’ve got a lot of experience and use their youth system quite well, like ourselves.
“I think they’ll be a bit of an unknown for us, but at the same time I don’t know how different they’ll be to most of the teams in our league.
“If we stick to our way and play our game, I still believe we’re the best team in this league.
“Hopefully Mickleover will give us a really good game and a real test, enjoy being here in front of our supporters, but I still want to come out of it with a win and I back us to do that.”
Shields are sixth in the table, 10 points behind leaders Scarborough Athletic with three games in hand.
The scenario reminds Shaw of the club’s title-winning campaign in the Northern League two seasons ago, when Shields clawed back a huge deficit to North Shields and Morpeth Town.
He insists the league table is not everything at this stage.
He added: “Nobody is going to let us forget that we want to win the league, and I don’t want that to ever change either from inside the dressing room.
“To have something to aim for and something to drive for is why we play and why we’ve been so successful, but when you do hit bumps in the road you have to start just focusing on the next game.
“We’ve had those inconsistent spells where if you’re looking too far down the line, you’ve lost the two games in that run-up and the focus becomes completely different.
“We need to keep focusing on the next match, but there’ll come a point in the season when we say ‘where are we?’
“When we get to Christmas time we can re-address it but for now, let’s just keep trying to chalk wins off, claw some of those points back on Scarborough and see where we are.
“I still look at the league table, and I don’t think you can help that.
“You look at it and say that if we win our games in hand, we’ll be second and a point off the top.
“I know that stat because I have looked at the table, but it still doesn’t mean that I’m thinking too much about it.
“I’m trying to think about this game against Mickleover and then just individual matches from there.
“Last year, we won so many games at the start that people were chasing us, but if you go back to the Northern League season, we were so far behind because of the games we missed during the cup runs that we were still chasing people.
“It’s not a scenario that we’ve not been involved in before, and it’s important that you keep focusing on the game in front of you.”
You can read a full interview with Jon Shaw in Saturday’s programme.