SSFC vs Heaton Stannington – Gazette Preview
The Mariners are unbeaten in six games and have won five of those, which has helped them recover from a tough start.
Shields progressed in the FA Vase in midweek with an impressive 3-1 triumph at Billingham Town, who are a tier above the Mariners in Northern League Division One, but King wants his team to tighten up at the back.
They have yet to record a clean sheet this season, so although clear improvements have been made in recent weeks, there are still areas for them to work on.
King was delighted to get the win in Tuesday night’s replay following Saturday’s 4-4 draw in the original game, but has set his side a target of not conceding in future fixtures.
“I was over the moon with the win on Tuesday,” he told the Gazette. “To beat a team from a higher league was very pleasing.
“The side is becoming more settled and we’ve now had six results on the trot, which is very good.
“It takes time for everyone to gel, and there is a lot more to come.
“We are still conceding goals, which is disappointing.
“We are scoring plenty of goals and are unbeaten away from home, which are real positives for us, but the challenge I have now set is to keep a clean sheet.”
Shields have been given a boost ahead of their game with Heaton, as the league leaders lost free-scoring striker Jonathan Wright to West Auckland Town this week.
Wright had been instrumental in their march to the top of the table, and King is hopeful his absence can give his side the edge.
He said: “They are a very good side but he was their biggest strength.
“Teams have all got a weapon and they have just lost a massive goalscorer.
“There must be more to them than that as they are top of the league, but they have scored 25 goals this season and he has got 18 of them.
“Of course they will have other strengths but he was a massive threat and they are devastated to have lost him.
“There is confidence in our camp that we can win the game, but I’m not going to say we’re definitely going to win as it doesn’t work like that.”
Stephen Ramsey remains a doubt for the Mariners with the dead leg which has kept him out in recent weeks, while Tony Coe will miss at least a portion of the game due to work commitments.
The match, at South Shields’ adopted home of Eden Lane in Peterlee, kicks off at 3pm tomorrow.