Graham Fenton sends warning to South Shields squad ahead of clash with Nantwich Town

South Shields put their 100% away record on the line on Saturday – with manager Graham Fenton insisting the league table counts for nothing heading into the trip to Nantwich Town.

Shields are two points clear at the top of the Northern Premier League following Tuesday’s hard-fought 2-1 victory over Lancaster City.

They have won all five of their games on the road so far, with Saturday’s match pitting them against a team which have lost four of their five home matches.

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Nantwich are 15th in the table but the Mariners have endured a number of difficult battles with Dave Cooke’s side over recent seasons.

South Shields player celebrate

Fenton is expecting more of the same at the Weaver Stadium.

He said: “Nantwich are probably further down the league than they’d have expected at this point of the season, and when you go there you never expect an easy game.

“We have to get ourselves right and cause them problems.

“Dave usually has them very well organised and they’re a difficult team to play against, so that’s what we’re expecting.”

Shields are the joint-top scorers in the league, having struck 26 times in their opening 11 games.

Fenton, however, has pinpointed his side’s finishing as an area for improvement as they look to push on heading into a difficult run of fixtures.

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He added: “We’ve got goal threats and we’re creating plenty of chances, which is hugely positive.

“We need to be more clinical though because there will be games where we have to take those chances to come out on the right side of the line.

“We won on Tuesday despite being a little bit wasteful so we’ll keep working on it in training and hopefully the ratios will improve as the season goes on.”

Former Sunderland midfielder David Vaughan is among Nantwich’s ranks and will be hoping to inspire an upturn in fortunes for the Dabbers, who have been regular play-off contenders over recent seasons.

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Shields’ last visit to the Cheshire-based outfit was in March 2020, just days before the pandemic forced football at all levels to be halted.

A second half strike from Bali Mumba – now playing in the Premier League with Norwich City - saw the Mariners emerge as 1-0 winners on that occasion, avenging a 4-1 home defeat to the same opposition earlier in the campaign.

Shields go into Saturday’s game without Jordan Hunter (arm) and Joao Gomes (groin), and have doubts over Alex Kempster and captain Blair Adams (both hamstring).

Kick-off at the Weaver Stadium – which has a post code of CW5 5UP – is at 3pm and admission prices are £11 for adults, £8 for over-60s and £3 for under-16s.

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This is the first of two consecutive away games for Fenton’s side, who travel to Bamber Bridge on Tuesday.

It could prove to be a pivotal month, with Shields also set to face second-placed Matlock Town, fourth-placed Buxton, sixth-placed Basford United and local rivals Morpeth Town in October, as well as Sunderland’s Under-23s in the Durham Challenge Cup.