Ex-Sunderland legend has message for South Shields squad

Kevin Phillips has stressed the importance of maximum points as South Shields look to build on their unbeaten start to the season on Tuesday.

Kevin Phillips has stressed the importance of maximum points as South Shields look to build on their unbeaten start to the season on Tuesday. Picture by Kev Wilson.
Kevin Phillips has stressed the importance of maximum points as South Shields look to build on their unbeaten start to the season on Tuesday. Picture by Kev Wilson.

The Mariners are at home to Gainsborough Trinity having won one and drawn two of their opening three fixtures in the Northern Premier League.

Their victory was against Stalybridge Celtic at home on the opening day, but they have since been held twice on their travels, by Ashton United and Marine.

Phillips is satisfied with his team’s start and is now eyeing a winning run as Shields look to generate some early momentum in their task to win promotion.

The manager said: “You don’t mind drawing matches, but you need to follow them up with wins.

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“We’ve had two away games and two long trips, and a win on Tuesday would make those two draws look a lot better.

“A lot of people will criticise those results and say we should have won the games, but football isn’t that simple.

“We’re a scalp to everyone and have to deal with that pretty quickly.

“The players are disappointed we didn’t win the game on Saturday and have the bit between their teeth.

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“I’m sure their reaction on the pitch will be positive, like it always is.”

Shields took a deserved 1-0 lead into the half-time break at Marine, which was handed to them by Michael Woods’ third goal in as many games.

They were frustrated not to be further ahead, though, and a quickfire double from the hosts turned the match on its head.

Darius Osei’s late penalty – earned by fellow substitute Dylan Mottley-Henry – secured a point for the Mariners, and Phillips was impressed with those he introduced from the bench.

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Competition for places is fierce in the Shields squad, and Phillips says all players have vital contributions to make.

He added: “I made four changes to the starting team on Saturday to try to freshen it up.

“I’ve got a great squad and I’ve got to try to give players minutes.

“It worked in the first half, which we absolutely dominated, and I had players ready to come on and make an impact in the second half, which they did.

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“You have your starters and your finishers, which are your subs, and they played a major part in getting us a point on Saturday.”

Shields are expecting to have Will McGowan back available on Tuesday after he missed Saturday’s match with a shoulder injury.

Tom Broadbent is nearing a return, but Saturday’s trip to Nantwich Town is viewed as a more realistic comeback date.

The Mariners remain without JJ Hooper, Cedric Main and Callum Ross, and they are assessing Mackenzie Heaney after he picked up a knock at Marine.

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Dillon Morse is building his match fitness after a groin injury with minutes for the club’s Academy.

Kick-off at 1st Cloud Arena on Tuesday is at 7.45pm and admission prices – which can be paid at the turnstiles – are £12 for adults, £9 for students, over-65s and disabled supporters, £5 for those aged 12 to 16 and £3 for under-12s.