Lee Picton issues a warning as South Shields look to move clear at the summit

South Shields have the chance to move further ahead at the top of the BetVictor Northern Premier Division tomorrow - but joint manager Lee Picton has warned they can't afford to drop their standards.

Thursday, 3rd October 2019, 17:11 pm
Updated Thursday, 3rd October 2019, 17:11 pm

Tuesday's 2-0 win at FC United of Manchester moved Shields six points clear at the top of the table, and they take on Atherton Collieries at Mariners Park tomorrow.

They have won their last six games in the league and have conceded just four goals in their 10 league fixtures so far.

Picton insists that is just a start, though, and that the Mariners cannot afford any complacency against a dangerous, newly-promoted opponent.

He said: "We're back at home and we've got to make sure that we keep our standards super high.

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"I'm sure that teams come to Mariners and almost see it as a free hit, which can be really dangerous.

"We've already been stung this season at home twice, against Hyde and in the FA Cup against Colne, so we know that it's never just a given.

"No matter where you are and no matter who you are, it's never a given to win a game.

"Nobody has a divine right to win a game of football and we certainly don't.

"Atherton will find that extra 10 or 15% that most teams do when they come to our place, and we've got to be right at our best to get three points."

Picton insists there are still plenty of aspects for Shields to improve on, particularly on the ball.

But he is buoyed by the progression the side has shown over the last year.

He added: "We're not even a quarter of the way through the season.

"We're considerably better off in terms of points tally compared to this time last year, and the challenge is to keep being really solid in terms of the number of chances and goals we concede, and to start to find our feet with the ball.

"We're really confident that we're going to do that now in terms of our in possession play.

"If we can get the combination of those two things right we're going to be a real handful for anybody."

Shields are hoping to welcome back Adam Thurston (ankle) and Jon Shaw (calf) after both missed the win at FC United, although Luke Daly (knee) remains out.

Jason Gilchrist is pushing for a start after scoring on his return from a hamstring injury as a substitute in Tuesday's victory, while Sanmi Odelusi is in contention for his home debut for the Mariners.

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.