South Shields urged to be more ruthless on return to league action

Joint manager Lee Picton with Robert Briggs, who scored twice in midweek. Image by Peter Talbot.Joint manager Lee Picton with Robert Briggs, who scored twice in midweek. Image by Peter Talbot.
Joint manager Lee Picton with Robert Briggs, who scored twice in midweek. Image by Peter Talbot.
Lee Picton has called on South Shields to be more ruthless as they return to league action tomorrow.

The Mariners beat Farsley Celtic on Tuesday in a dramatic FA Trophy tie, eventually winning the replay 4-3 after extra-time.

Despite being delighted with the eventual victory, joint manager Picton knows there are plenty of areas the team can improve in.

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One of those is taking advantage when they are on top in games, and he has urged his team to take their chances in tomorrow’s game against Atherton Collieries at Mariners Park.

Picton said: “We came out of the blocks really strongly on Tuesday, moved the ball around and created some really good opportunities.

“We took an early lead, but, in those phases of domination, we’ve got to capitalise on a bit more than we are at the moment.

“Again we went in 1-0 up at half-time, when really we should have had a little bit more to show for our efforts in the first 45 minutes.

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“Then, in the second half, we struggled for whatever reason, and it was a strange game.

“We were just relieved to get through in the end.”

Not for the first time in recent weeks, Shields showed tremendous character to come through a difficult period and win the game on Tuesday.

However, Picton feels they have become too easy to score against recently.

He added: “We’ve conceded 12 goals in our last seven games, which is not like us, and it’s not good enough for us.

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“We’re going to have to look at that and do some thinking and hard work around that.

“We might have to go back to basics in terms of making it tough for teams to score against us, because we’ve become a little bit of a soft touch at times defending our own goal.

“That’s very uncharacteristic of us, but what was characteristic of us on Tuesday was the grit and determination that we showed again.

“We said to the lads that it’s brilliant that we’re showing time after time that we’ve got grit, determination and character, but Tuesday was another game where we shouldn’t have had to rely on that side of things too much.”

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Shields go into tomorrow’s game sitting second in Evo-Stik North, kept off top spot by Bamber Bridge on alphabetical order alone.

Atherton are 16th in the table, but Picton insists league positions will count for little, as has been proved in several matches so far this season.

He said: “We’re finding that, no disrespect to the Northern League, but teams are hanging in in games a lot more often and for a lot longer than we experienced generally last season.

“We’ve got to be better in certain areas, but we look forward to playing in front of another great crowd tomorrow.

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“Atherton had a good win last weekend in the FA Trophy, so will be coming with a bit of confidence.

“We’re going to definitely have to be better in certain areas if we want to get three points.”

A number of Shields players are doubtful for the game. Jon Shaw is expected to miss out, while there are severe doubts over Matty Pattison and Michael Richardson, but Jamie Holmes should return.

Kick-off at Mariners Park is at 3pm, with admission – to be paid at the turnstiles – priced at £8 for adults, £6 for students and over-65s, and £2 for under-16s.