In-form South Shields welcome back Julio Arca for big home clash

Striker Andrew Bulford celebrates scoring for South Shields against Ryhope Colliery Welfare in midweek at Mariners Park. Picture by Peter Talbot.
Striker Andrew Bulford celebrates scoring for South Shields against Ryhope Colliery Welfare in midweek at Mariners Park. Picture by Peter Talbot.
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South Shields’ players are ‘bouncing’ ahead of tomorrow’s home game with Ryton and Crawcrook Albion, according to defender Daryll Hall.

The Mariners are looking for an eighth win in a row in all competitions, and could leapfrog Chester-le-Street into top spot in Northern League Division Two with a victory at Mariners Park.

The changing room is bouncing. Everyone is getting on, and everything is starting to click into place

Daryll Hall

Defender Hall feels the spirit in the camp couldn’t be better.

He said: “The changing room is bouncing. Everyone is getting on, and everything is starting to click into place.

“We had a bit of a sloppy start, but now we’ve got a settled squad, everything is starting to come together for us. We’ve set a performance level now, and it’s got to be the same every week.

“If you have one bad game here, you’ll be out, because there are lads on the bench who are just as good as those on the pitch. It makes you think about everything all the time, so it’s a really good challenge for us all.”

The club – who appointed Michael Orr as managing director on Wednesday – is hoping for another bumper crowd tomorrow on what is non-league day.

On Tuesday, a superb midweek crowd of 454 saw Shields beat Ryhope 2-0, while there have been attendances of 600 and 700+ so far this season. For Hall, playing in front of such large gates is ‘amazing’.

He added: “It’s amazing to play in front of these fans.

“Even when you’re walking off at the end, they’re clapping, and you can hear them shouting during the game, and it just gives you a little bit of a boost. It’s like having 12 men. I experienced good support at West Auckland when we reached Wembley for the FA Vase final, because we took about 5,000 down there, but I’ve never been at a club with support like this on a weekly basis. This is outstanding.”

Shields host Ryton tomorrow, and assistant manager Gary Middleton has challenged them to maintain the winning run.

He said: “Every team wants to come here and beat South Shields, and we’ve got to manage and deal with that.

“We said a while ago that we needed to go on a long run of wins, and that’s seven in a row now and six clean sheets.

“That’s what we needed to do, and we need to keep that going. Every game is a test, and Ryton is the next challenge to come up. We’ll have to make sure we step up to the challenge.”

Shields are set to welcome back Julio Arca and Leepaul Scroggins, while Robert Briggs is battling to be fit and David Foley is available again after returning from his hamstring injury in Tuesday’s win.

Kick-off at Mariners Park is at 3pm, with admission prices £5 for adults, £3 for students and over-65s, and £1 for under-16s.