Assistant manager Gary Middleton felt South Shields made a significant “statement” on Saturday in their much-deserved 2-0 victory at Team Northumbria.
The students went into the game on the back of a 12-game unbeaten run in the league, and had lost just once at home all season.
However, Shields controlled Saturday’s match at Coach Lane with a strong performance as they moved 12 points ahead of their opponents with a game in hand.
Middleton said: “It was a bit of a statement. We were playing a team which was unbeaten in 12 games and had only lost once at home all season.
“We knew it would be a tough game, and it was, but I think we won comfortably in the end.
“It was one of our best performances of the season. From one to 11, the lads really put in a good shift, and played some great football throughout.”
A number of changes were made by the Mariners for the game, with Scott Pocklington returning in goal, while Julio Arca and Leepaul Scroggins both came back from suspension and Danny Carson lined up alongside Ibby Hassan in the centre back positions.
Middleton added: “Team Northumbria are one of the best footballing teams in the league, and we were aware of that.
“We changed our team and made some big decisions as a management team because of the way Team Northumbria play, and I think that worked. The lads didn’t let us down.
“We’ve got a lot of strength in depth, and we’ve said to the lads all season that we’ll be sharing games out, and pick a team to beat the side in front of us.”