South Shields boss Graham Fenton targets treble – after Durham Challenge Cup final triumph

Delighted South Shields show off the Durham Challenge Cup to their happy fans at Hartlepool United last night. Picture by Peter Talbot
Delighted South Shields show off the Durham Challenge Cup to their happy fans at Hartlepool United last night. Picture by Peter Talbot
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Now let’s make it a treble!

That was the message from South Shields boss Graham Fenton after watching his side claim a second trophy of the season with a 2-0 Durham Challenge Cup final win over Billingham Synthonia last night.

Goals either side of half-time from Andrew Stephenson and David Foley – on his return to Hartlepool’s Victoria Park where he first made his name as a youngster – meant the Mariners lifted the cup for the first time in 40 years.

It added to the Northern League title they claimed a fortnight ago, and sets the side up nicely for a third tilt at a trophy this season, when they take on North Shields this weekend in the League Cup final.

The two clubs have been closely matched this campaign, with the Robins inflicting a 1-0 defeat on the Mariners before Christmas, only for Shields to gain revenge last month by the same scoreline as they overhauled the long-time league leaders.

Fenton said: “We want to get the bragging rights, as I’m sure they do across the Tyne.

“It’s 1-1 at the minute, so we’ll try and win our third trophy and stop them winning their first of the season.”

Shields put out a strong team last night, rejecting the chance to give a couple of squad players a run-out, and Fenton says that showed how much they wanted to lift the Durham Challenge Cup, despite having other priorities this season.

He added: “I don’t want to disrespect the competition but everyone knows the first two competitions you want to win are the league, because that means you’ve been the best team all season long, and a national competition.

“But we were in this competition to win it and it’s not as if we put the reserves out, we had a strong team out there.

“It’s a real pleasure. We haven’t won the competition since 1977, so it’s a monkey off the back. Hopefully we can enter the competition now and get a run of victories.”

Shields struggled to break down Division Two side Synthonia in the first half, with Stephenson’s opener coming on 40 minutes.

They were much improved after the break though, and could have added many more to Foley’s strike which came just 90 seconds after the restart.

“First half, we played all right at times, but we knew if we upped our game we’d cause them problems and that’s the way it worked out,” said Fenton.

“We only got one goal in the second half, but, on another day, it could possibly have been another two or three.

“It was a decent first half, but a particularly positive second half.”