South Shields relishing hectic schedule as they battle on four fronts

Louis Storey could make his first league appearance since breaking his leg against West Auckland in September.
Louis Storey could make his first league appearance since breaking his leg against West Auckland in September.

Joint boss Graham Fenton says South Shields are relishing a hectic run of games – as they continue their battle on four fronts.

The Mariners return to Northern League Division One action tomorrow as they host West Auckland Town.

Let’s just see how long we can keep this run going

Graham Fenton

They are bidding to cut the gap on leaders North Shields, who have an 11-point lead, but have played three more games than Shields.

Shields also have the FA Vase, Durham Challenge Cup and League Cup to contend with, and are through to at least the last eight in all of those competitions.

Far from being daunted by that, though, Fenton is excited by the challenge each game will bring.

And he says the side is in confident mood ahead of tomorrow’s match at Mariners Park, as Shields aim to make it an incredible 16 wins in a row in all competitions.

He said: “We’re pushing on all fronts.

“It’s safe to say we’re going to need everyone available as much as possible over the next few weeks and months, but it’s exciting.

“I think everyone is looking forward to the next league game and then the League Cup game next Wednesday.

“Let’s just see how long we can keep this run going.”

Shields are taking on a West Auckland team which has pulled away from relegation danger over recent months, having struggled to get going at the start of the season.

Fenton added: “Whenever you play West Auckland, they’re competitive.

“We go into the game hugely confident with the run we’re on, and we’re playing at home, which is always a massive boost with our outstanding fans behind us.

“We’re just looking forward to the game again.”

Shields defeated Hartlepool United 3-0 on Tuesday to progress to the semi-finals of the Durham Challenge Cup.

A number of changes were made to the squad for that game, with the likes of Gavin Cogdon, David Foley, Andrew Stephenson and Carl Finnigan not risked due to slight knocks.

Cogdon is expected to miss out again tomorrow, but Fenton is sure that he and fellow joint manager Lee Picton will have to contend with selection dilemmas.

He said: “We had to make a few changes on Tuesday due to a couple of little niggles, and I thought everybody stepped up to the plate.

“There were some really strong performances, so it’s going to be very difficult at the weekend to select an 11.

“Possibly the 16 will be a little bit easier, because we’ve got a couple of injuries here and there.

“Selecting teams at the moment is difficult, but we’d much rather have it that way.”

Tomorrow could be quite an occasion for Shields defender Louis Storey, who suffered a broken leg in a game against West Auckland in September, and made his first senior appearance since then on Tuesday.

Kick-off is at 3pm, and admission prices – paid at the turnstiles – are £6 for adults, £4 for students and over-65s, and £2 for under-16s.

Meanwhile, tickets have been selling fast for the Mariners’ FA Vase quarter-final against Newton Pagnell Town. Less than 24 hours after the tickets for the match went on general sale, more than 1,000 tickets have been snapped up.

The tie will take place on Saturday, February 18, and is on course to be an all-ticket game. To buy a ticket, visit Mariners Park or call the club on 0191 454 7800.