Gainsborough Trinity all set to do battle with title hopefuls South Shields

Gainsborough Trinity will face one of their toughest challenges of the season when title-chasing South Shields come to town this weekend.

Former Sunderland star Kevin Phillips is the man at the helm at South Shields.
Former Sunderland star Kevin Phillips is the man at the helm at South Shields.

Shields, who are a full-time club and managed by former Sunderland striker Kevin Phillips, go into the weekend two points behind leaders Buxton with five games to play.

Trinity, meanwhile, come into the game off the back of a 1-0 loss at Hyde United last weekend and still needing points to ensure not only safety from outright relegation but also to shake off any fears of a potential relegation/promotion play-off place for teams that finish third from bottom and have the lowest points-per-game record.

But boss Tom Shaw is not fearing the prospect of facing one of the division’s top sides.

He said: "We keep going from game to game and bouncing on whatever happens. We’ve had some really positive results recently but we never get too carried away, nor do we get too low after defeats like at Hyde.

"We continue to learn, even with five games to go, and hopefully get better and better. It’s very hard to win a game of football and your body and brain is going to really hurt if you’ve won, so we’ll go through things again in terms of how we can be a bit smarter and give ourselves the best chance of winning.

"We know it’ll be really difficult against a side like South Shields with the way they are and how they do things, but if we’re at our best I know we can cause them problems just like we did at their place.”

Regarding the defeat at Hyde, settled by Lewis Earl’s second-half winner that saw the hosts leapfrog Trinity in the table, Shaw felt his side weren’t quite at the races.

He said: “I’m disappointed with our performance. We lacked any edge, aside from Cameron Johnson who gave us an idea of what it needs to look like when he came on. He was desperate to win everything – every corner, throw-in, header was like his life depended on it and that’s the level we’ve got to get to.

"We did that in the previous game at Atherton which got us a brilliant result, but we’ve not backed it up.

"The lads are very honest and they’ll keep running and won’t shy away from the work, but I think we had tired legs and tired minds and couldn’t quite get to the levels of Tuesday again, which is a shame because there wasn’t much in the game.”