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Don’t take eye off ball in league, South Shields urged

Carl Finnigan celebrates putting South Shields ahead against Hartlepool United last week. Picture by Peter Talbot.
Carl Finnigan celebrates putting South Shields ahead against Hartlepool United last week. Picture by Peter Talbot.

South Shields have been warned not to take their eye off the ball in the chase for promotion as they put their cup exploits to one side tomorrow.

Because of their involvement in the FA Cup, FA Trophy and League Cup, the Mariners have played just one league game since September 23.

We’re three points behind Bamber Bridge now and the lads are fully aware of that

Lee Picton

That has allowed Bamber Bridge to leapfrog them into top spot in Evo-Stik North, although Shields have three games in hand and are just three points behind them in second place.

They travel to Greater Manchester tomorrow to take on a Mossley side which is unbeaten at home so far this season.

Joint manager Lee Picton feels it is imperative that his team returns to league action with a win.

He said: “It will be a really tough one for us.

“Mossley’s home record has been excellent so far this season, so it’s certainly not going to be an easy game.

“It’s another long journey for us, so we’ve got to prepare right, and get our levels back to where they’ve been over the last few weeks.”

On the importance of the game, Picton added: “We’ve got to pick up three points.

“We’re three points behind Bamber Bridge now and the lads are fully aware of that.

“We’ve got to re-focus on the league, which is our number one priority this season, and make another statement tomorrow with our performance, and hopefully the result as well.”

Jamie Holmes, who has been carrying a knock over recent weeks, is a doubt for the game, but Julio Arca could return from the injury he picked up in the FA Cup loss to Hartlepool United last Saturday.

That knock forced the Shields captain to sit out of the League Cup penalty shoot-out win over Farsley Celtic on Tuesday.

Shields held a 2-0 lead thanks to two goals shortly before the hour mark, but Farsley hit back with a goal on 89 minutes, and another three minutes into stoppage time.

Despite the late drama, Picton felt there were plenty of pleasing aspects to take from the game.

He added: “There were definitely some positives to come out of the game.

“We were getting frustrated in the first half, because there was a bit of rustiness, with a few players playing who had not had a lot of minutes over recent weeks.

“We didn’t help ourselves at times, as we fell into the trap of taking too many touches and over-complicating things.

“We were certainly better in the second half, but unfortunately there was a twist in the tail and we had to go to penalties.”

Meanwhile, Shields’ efforts at the start of the season were rewarded as they received the award for being the Evo-Stik North’s Club of the Month in a combined prize for August and September.

Senior players Julio Arca and Craig Baxter received the award – a glass memento and a bottle of spirits – before Tuesday’s match at Mariners Park.

Shields’ recognition came after they won eight of their opening nine league games to kick-off life as a Northern Premier League club in fine style.

Tomorrow’s league fixture at Seel Park, which has a postcode of OL5 0ES, kicks off at 3pm.

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