In-form David Foley feels the hard yards on the training pitch are paying dividends for South Shields after their dramatic comeback win against Billingham Town on Tuesday.
Shields, who host Darlington RA tomorrow, came from 2-0 down to record their first victory of the new season, with strikes from Leepaul Scroggins, Warren Byrne and Foley in the last 12 minutes turning the game on its head.
The fitness definitely seems to show in the last 10 minutes of gamesDavid Foley
The Mariners had an intensive pre-season, particularly in the early weeks, and had a particular focus on fitness, which appears to now be paying off.
Foley also netted in stoppage time in an ultimately losing cause last week, in the opening-day 3-2 defeat to Northallerton Town, and Shields seem to have been getting stronger the longer games have gone on.
The former Hartlepool United forward feels that is no coincidence, and said: “The fitness of everyone is fantastic.
“Northallerton were cramping after 70 minutes when we played them, and so were Billingham, whereas we seemed to be cruising.
“We don’t have those sort of problems, which I think is important, because on Tuesday it won us the game.
“It takes a while to get up to full match fitness, but all of the lads have been working hard and we’ve had good attendances in training, which definitely seems to show in the last 10 minutes of games.”
Foley’s winning goal on Tuesday was a volley from 25 yards out on the left, and came just moments after Byrne had equalised.
He added: “It was a nice goal, but I got a bit of stick from the lads afterwards, because they said I had hardly touched the ball all game.
“It sat up nicely for me, and if I hit 20 of them, 19 will probably go into the stand, but luckily it went in. It was nice to score a goal like that, but the win was more important. We started off slowly again, which we need to knock on the head, but we showed character and came back. The subs were also fantastic, and totally changed the game.”
Shields host Darlington RA at Mariners Park tomorrow, but will be hoping for a tighter performance at the back following two poor first half showings.
Manager Jon King said: “I didn’t think it was going to be our night on Tuesday, with the amount of chances we had, and it was looking like being another frustrating one like Saturday.
“Full credit to the lads, though, because they played some really good stuff, cut Billingham open and were patient with the football.
“We were by far the better side, but it was just disappointing that we fell two goals behind again, and had to wait so long to get the goals. The lads showed fantastic character to get the win, and hopefully we can build on that tomorrow.”
A crowd of 371 was recorded on Tuesday, following on from the 417 who attended the Northallerton game.
King added: “I don’t think we’ll have any problem bringing the crowds back if they’re seeing football matches like that. It was nervy, and fantastic at times.
“All of the games are going to be tough, as we know we’re now seen as a big scalp.
“There was another big crowd on Tuesday, and teams seem to be raising their game for that kind of atmosphere.
“It was great that we got the result in the end.”
Shields will welcome back Stephen Ramsey from suspension for the 3pm kick-off, but Paul Kane remains banned.