South Shields bid to pull off FA Cup upset at Darlington
Lee Picton has called on his South Shields players to rise to the occasion as they bid to pull off an FA Cup upset tomorrow.
The Mariners travel to Darlington for a mouth-watering North East derby in the second qualifying round of the competition.
To emerge victorious, they will have to bridge a gap of two leagues, with Darlo sitting mid-table in the National League North.
Joint manager Picton feels Shields will have to improve on recent performances if they are to win at Blackwell Meadows.
However, with the Mariners having achieved much success in cup competitions over recent months – including winning the FA Vase at Wembley in May – he has full faith in his team’s ability.
Picton said: “Tomorrow is the kind of game that everyone should want to be a part of.
“It will be a great occasion in front of a big crowd, and there’s no doubt that it’ll be an exceptionally tough challenge for us.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that it will be our toughest test so far this season, and we’ve got to raise our game in certain areas if we want to compete.
“We’ve always got massive confidence in our side, though.
“If we can get our levels right and a couple of things can just start to click for us, it will be a really good game and we’ll have a good chance.”
Shields have almost sold out their allocation of 800 tickets for the game, which is sure to be played in a red-hot atmosphere.
They go into it on the back of a 2-1 Evo-Stik North win at Colne on Tuesday, which saw them bounce back after their 45-match unbeaten run had ended last Saturday at Colwyn Bay.
Picton added: “I think our general play on Tuesday deserved a much more comfortable win.
“We were particularly pleased with the first half, when we put in a very strong performance overall.
“We nearly paid the price for not converting really good chances and situations into more goals, and that’s something we’ve got to look to put right tomorrow.
“When we get our opportunities, we’re going to have to take them.
“We know we’ve got lots and lots of quality at the top end of the pitch, and that hasn’t quite been firing over recent games.
“When it does, though, we’re going to be a real proposition to cope with for any team.
“Hopefully that can happen tomorrow and we can give Darlington a really good game.”
On the huge support the Mariners will enjoy tomorrow, Picton said: “It’s almost par for the course now, but we must remind ourselves that it doesn’t happen at other clubs at our level.
“We’ve got to be so thankful for the support we get, and we know it’s going to be incredible again tomorrow.”
Tomorrow’s game – which kicks off at 3pm – is all-ticket, and Shields will be selling their last remaining tickets at Mariners Park today.
They can also be bought by calling 0191 454 7800.