Graham Fenton insists South Shields still firmly believe in their title credentials heading into tomorrow’s crunch clash with Warrington Town.
The Mariners have not won in their last two games, having drawn 3-3 with Bamber Bridge on Saturday before a 2-1 defeat at Grantham Town on Tuesday.
The results left them third in the table, two points behind leaders Farsley Celtic, who have a game in hand.
Also two points above Shields are second-placed Warrington, who are tomorrow’s visitors to Mariners Park.
They boast what is comfortably the best defensive record in the Evo-Stik Premier Division and defeated Shields 3-0 in the reverse fixture earlier in the season.
Joint manager Fenton, though, insists his side will be fired up as they go in search of maximum points.
He said: “There’s a long way to go.
“We were disappointed on Tuesday, but we have dusted ourselves down and have 13 games to go and 39 points to play for.
“It’s not won or lost yet and we’re still in a better place than we were three or four months ago.
“We can’t forget that, but we have looked at the footage, picked out the points we did well and the areas we need to put right very quickly.
“We’re going to have an exceptionally difficult game tomorrow, but hopefully the lads will be stinging a bit and turn up with the bit between their teeth to turn it around.”
The Shields management watched Warrington win 4-1 at Gainsborough Trinity a fortnight ago and were impressed with what they saw.
They are expecting to come up against a team which is hard to break down tomorrow.
Fenton added: “It will be massively difficult.
“We went down to watch them in the Gainsborough game and they’re a good, well-organised side which doesn’t concede many goals at all.
“We will have to earn everything we get tomorrow.
“We’re stinging right now and hopefully those frustrations will come into this game and be really evident in our performance in a positive way.”
Shields are hoping to welcome back captain Jon Shaw after he missed Tuesday’s game because of personal reasons.
They continue to be without long-term injured trio Carl Finnigan, Barrie Smith and Anthony Callaghan, though.
Kick-off at Mariners Park is at 3pm and admission - which can be paid at the turnstiles - is £10 for adults, £8 for students and over-65s, and £3 for under-16s.