South Shields will climb back to the top of the table if they avoid defeat at home to Easington Colliery tomorrow – but Jon King feels there is still much more to come from his side.
The Mariners won 1-0 at Hebburn Town on Monday, and are unbeaten since an opening-day 3-2 loss to Northallerton Town at Mariners Park.
Chester-le-Street’s victory at Birtley Town in midweek knocked Shields down to second in Northern League Division Two.
Despite their good placing, though, King feels they have not performed at their best since a 6-0 win over Darlington RA three weeks ago.
The Shields manager said: “We haven’t really hit the heights of the Darlington RA game since then, but we’re still sitting second in the league, which is a big positive for us.
“We’ve had some big players missing, especially in the wide areas, with the likes of David Foley, Wayne Phillips and now Adam Sakr.
“We’ve still been getting the results, and there was a definite improvement against Hebburn.
“We could have been a little bit more clinical, but our ball retention was very good.
“For weeks, we’ve been asking the players to be patient with the football, and they did that very well on Monday.”
Tomorrow’s fixture against Easington will see Shields come up against a side which beat them 7-3 in the Durham Challenge Cup last season.
Easington were then a Wearside League side, but after winning promotion, they have performed well in the opening weeks of the Northern League season, with their highlight so far coming on Monday, when they beat Ryhope 4-0.
King added: “Easington have plenty of aggression in the team. They have got some big lads, and they got a fantastic result against Ryhope.
“When we played them in the cup last season, we were very comfortable before our discipline cost us, but I’m sure they’ll be up for it again.
“I expect this game will be a real battle, but the lads are very buoyant, and hopefully we should have more lads to choose from.
“Hopefully, we’ll be able to keep this run going. We’re unbeaten since the first game of the season, and we’re going well without playing fantastic.”
Shields are hoping to have Phillips back to fitness for the 3pm kick-off at Mariners Park, while Sakr will be out for about a fortnight with the injuries he picked up in last week’s abandoned game against Ryhope CW.
Meanwhile, the club’s Under-18s side are also in action tomorrow, at Darlington. They kicked off their season last week with a 1-1 draw at New Hartley.