Ex-Sunderland legend has warning for promotion-chasing South Shields squad

Kevin Phillips has warned his players they can afford no more slip-ups as they bid to boost their promotion hopes on Saturday.

By Reporter
Thursday, 7th April 2022, 6:06 pm
Kevin Phillips has warned his players they can afford no more slip-ups as they bid to boost their promotion hopes on Saturday. Photo: Kevin Wilson/South Shields FC

The Mariners take on Stalybridge Celtic at 1st Cloud Arena, one of just four fixtures they have remaining in the Northern Premier League.

Last Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Gainsborough Trinity, in which they conceded an equaliser in second half stoppage time, left them two points behind leaders Buxton.

The margin for error is now small and manager Phillips says his squad is well aware of that.

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The former Sunderland striker said: “We all know it’s pretty clear we can’t afford any more slip-ups if we want to win automatic promotion.

“Our target is of course to win all four of our remaining fixtures but we can’t disrespect any of our opponents, because they’ll all be fully motivated to stop us and will want to have a big say.

“We have to just take each hurdle as it comes, starting against Stalybridge Celtic.

“It’s vital we pick up a positive result heading into what will be a difficult Easter weekend double-header for everyone in the league, with two games in three days.”

Stalybridge are safe from relegation after collecting two wins from their last three matches, which makes them an even trickier team to face, according to Phillips.

He added: “Stalybridge will be tough opponents, especially after a couple of good results recently which secured their safety.

“They’ve got no worries of going down now so they’re a dangerous animal with no pressure on them.

“We’re expecting them to raise their game, as many teams do at our place, and we have to be ready for that.

“Stalybridge are quite a direct team and are not afraid to pull the trigger around the penalty area, so we need to be careful of that and defend well if we are to pick up three points.”

Shields remain without injured midfielder Callum Ross but are hoping to have an otherwise full-strength squad to choose from at 1st Cloud Arena.

Admission – which can be paid at the turnstiles – is £10 for adults, £8 for students and over-65s, and £3 for under-16s.