South Shields joint-manager Lee Picton said his side were “far from our free-flowing best” despite the Mariners earning a 4-1 victory over Hednesford Town in the Northern Premier League.

Shields remain one point behind Farsley Celtic who scored a 2-1 win away at Buxton but Picton insists his side have “just got to focus on ourselves” during the promotion race.

Following the Mariners victory over Hednesford, Picton said: “I was pleased with one half of our performance.

“I thought we defended our own half of the pitch well and looked really solid and strong.

“On the flip side I thought we didn’t meet the really high standards we’ve set ourselves over the last three years in terms of the football that we play.

“I thought we were sporadic at best and we were far from our free flowing best.

“In the end we managed to find enough moments of quality to win the game.

“Obviously I’m delighted with the result, I would have snapped anyone’s hand off if they offered us a 4-1 before the game.”

Picton added: “I thought our whole back four did well defensively but in particular I thought Jon Shaw and Dillon Morse were excellent.

“I was delighted for Connor Bell getting his first goal for the club.”

On the promotion battle, Picton said: “Farsley’s game was supposed to be their toughest test left on paper, but it never works out on paper.

“Farsley have done well going down to Buxton and getting three points today and well done to them for that.

“We’ve just got to focus on ourselves, we’ve got five games left.

“The law of averages would say if we got maximum points then it should be good enough but you just never know. So we’ve just got to focus on what we do.”

Hednesford Town had been in good form heading into the game but they seemed to roll over for South Shields.

A dejected Nicky Eaden said: “That performance was so far away from what we’ve been. Before today we’d gone six unbeaten and looked a well-organised, hard-working side that can play a bit.

“Today we looked like a team that didn’t want to run, didn’t want to sprint and just hope that they could get away without too much of a hiding.”

“I don’t think today will affect confidence, South Shields are a good side and are deservedly towards the top of the table, but I’m just a bit disappointed in the manner of the defeat.

“South Shields are a good team and have a good chance of going up. They get the ball down and pass it. It’s been nice to watch a game without a neck ache,” added the Hednesford boss.