Kevin Phillips reacts as South Shields are paired with Forest Green Rovers in FA Cup first round draw

The Mariners were handed an intriguing tie in Monday night’s FA Cup first round draw

<p>South Shields players and staff celebrate after their FA Cup fourth qualifying round win against National League club Scunthorpe United (photo Kevin Wilson)</p>

South Shields players and staff celebrate after their FA Cup fourth qualifying round win against National League club Scunthorpe United (photo Kevin Wilson)

South Shields manager Kevin Phillips is already ‘relishing’ an FA Cup first round date with EFL opposition after his side were paired with Forest Green Rovers.

The League One side will make the long trip to the 1st Cloud Arena on the weekend of Saturday 5th November as the Mariners look to pull of a major shock in front of their own supporters. The draw is a major boost for the Mariners faithful after Covid-19 restrictions forced them to miss out on their side’s previous venture to the first round when their 3-1 defeat at Cheltenham Town in November 2020 was played behind closed doors.

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Phillips watched his side see off Scunthorpe United to claim their place in the first round and the Sunderland star legend is relishing the prospect of seeing a big crowd roar on the Mariners when they take on a Rovers side currently sat in the League One relegation zone in what he admitted is ‘a big test’ for his players.

He told BBC Sport: “It’s a good draw, we are at home and in front of our fans. It’ll be another good occasion, just like at the weekend. Again we will fancy our chances, with respect to Forest Green, but I am sure they won’t fancy coming to the North East. It’s a really exciting tie and we are looking forward to it.

“They’re a good side, they play some good football, they will fancy their chances and we will give them the respect. We are the home team, we will relish the occasion and we will tell our players to enjoy the occasion and it will be a big test for us.”

The Mariners return to their push for promotion from the Northern Premier League Premier Divison on Tuesday night when they visit struggling Liversedge.

The North East’s other representatives in Monday’s draw were all handed awkward tests with League Two side Hartlepool United set to visit National League promotion contenders Solihull Moors. Gateshead will entertain League Two leaders Stevenage if they beat Altrincham in a fourth qualifying round replay on Tuesday night as they bid to reach the second round for the second consecutive season.

National League North side Blyth Spartans will welcome either Oldham Athletic or Chester to Croft Park if they pull off a major upset at high-flying Wrexham in a replay on Tuesday night. Michael Richardson’s late equaliser earned Graham Fenton’s men another crack at the Welsh outfit and the former South Shields manager insisted his side will ‘have a go’ at the Racecourse Ground.

He said: “It’s disappointing because we felt we had done enough to earn the win against Wrexham. We will go down there, we will give it a go. It’s a tough place to go, they’re a good team but we have to go at it with no fear, there’s nothing to fear. We saw that and we are looking forward to the challenge.”