By Daniel Prince
South Shields play the first of an Easter weekend double header tomorrow (Saturday) when they travel to Whickham in Ebac Northern League Division Two.
The Mariners go into the game on the back of three straight defeats, the latest of which was a 2-1 reverse against Alnwick Town last Saturday.
The manner of that loss particularly disappointed manager Jon King, who is looking for an instant reaction from his squad in tomorrow’s game, which will be followed up by a trip to Esh Winning on Monday.
Shields will be boosted by the returns from suspension of Chris Locke and Stephen Ramsey for the fixture, while Chris Rue, Ryan Bolam and Steven Hubery will return to contention.
King said: “I’m expecting to see a big improvement from the players, because we were very poor against Alnwick.
“We definitely need a reaction from them, and hopefully the return of a few lads will help provide that.
“Ramsey, Locke and Rue have great experience, and have probably played about 800 games between them in the Northern League, so they are big players for us to have back.
“The Under-18s trained well this week again, and no doubt we’ll be using a few of them over the next few games.
“I’ve got full faith in them, especially Ryan Bolam. He trained really well again on Thursday and has got lots of ability.
“Since he has come into the first team, he has done exceptionally well.”
Shields will be without the suspended Lee Maitland and injured Baptiste Fixot (hamstring) for tomorrow’s game against a Whickham side sitting eighth in the table.
However, new signing Nicky Evans will be available, as will Gary Crutwell, for a game King is expecting to be tight.
He added: “Whickham are strong and physical. We went there last season and put a really good performance in to beat them 1-0.
“We’ll need to be at our best, because they’re well-organised and (manager) Robin Falcus has done a good job there.
“Every time we play them, it seems to be a tight game.
“The last time Robin came to Peterlee, he was very flattering, and said to his lads that South Shields are always one of the best teams he plays against. That was flattering for him to say that.
“No doubt it will be a tight game, but hopefully we can edge it and get the three points.”
Kick-off at Glebe Sports Ground is at 3pm.