South Shields boss has this strong message for squad

Graham Fenton has called on his South Shields players to react strongly when they host Witton Albion on Saturday.

By Dan Prince
Thursday, 16th December 2021, 6:09 pm
South Shields FC.
South Shields FC.

The Mariners were beaten 2-1 by Hyde United at 1st Cloud Arena last weekend, despite taking an early lead through Will McGowan.

The first half performance in particular bitterly disappointed manager Fenton, who admits it was “nowhere near good enough”.

He now wants the Mariners to demonstrate how much that defeat hurt them in Saturday’s clash with 17th-placed Witton.

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He said: “We all realise the first half display last Saturday was nowhere near good enough for this football club and we’re all hurting off the back of it.

“What we have to ensure is that we react in the right manner and put on a performance that reflects our disappointment from last Saturday.

“What I can also say is there has been a lot of reflection, a lot of soul-searching and a lot of conversations both within the squad and staff, and individual conversations, that I feel have been very productive this week.

“The players’ levels in training have been of a very high standard, so the signs are good that there is a realisation that we need to bounce back and bounce back very quickly,” he added.

Last weekend’s loss left Shields fourth in the Northern Premier League, five points behind leaders Buxton.

A victory on Saturday could see the Mariners climb as high as second, but Fenton is not taking Witton lightly.

Just one goal separated the sides in the reverse fixture as Shields got the better of their opponents in August, and Witton have improved since then under the management of Carl Macauley.

They have not played a competitive fixture since November 20th, but Fenton is well aware of the test they can pose his side.

He added: “As always in this league, we know the task is going to be difficult.

“We’ve had some tough games against Witton over the last few years and we don’t expect anything different on Saturday.

“In Witton’s last game, they were very unfortunate to come out on the wrong side of a 4-1 scoreline against Bamber Bridge.

“The red card they received had a big part to play and they looked set to earn a draw until the dying moments, when they conceded three quick goals to make it appear like an easy match for Bamber Bridge.

“That in itself tells you that this is going to be a tough challenge, but we’re ready for it and are eager to get out there,” he added.

Shields are expected to be without Dillon Morse as he nurses a slight calf injury, while Jordan Hunter (broken arm) and Darius Osei (suspension) remain out.

JJ Hooper is set to return to contention, though, after he missed the Hyde game with a slight hip flexor injury and food poisoning.

Kick-off at 1st Cloud Arena is at 3pm and admission prices are £10 for adults, £8 for students, over-65s and disabled supporters, and £3 for under-16s.