Graham Fenton hailed South Shields’ FA Cup heroes after they stormed to a stunning 3-0 win at Darlington on Saturday.
The Mariners comfortably saw off their National League North opponents with a tremendous performance at Blackwell Meadows.
Dillon Morse’s early header and two well-taken goals from Carl Finnigan secured Shields’ place in the third qualifying round as they overcame a two-division gap to hammer their opponents.
Joint manager Fenton could not hide his delight after the game as he saluted the players.
He said: “We’re so proud of the way the lads went about their business. Sometimes you can go away to teams who play in higher leagues and be in awe a little bit, but our lads were anything but.
“They settled into the game from the start, and worked to the gameplan to a T. They were absolutely brilliant at what we asked them to do and there were some tremendous performances. Even with really good players in their team, they struggled to deal with us.”
Although proud, Fenton was not shocked.
He added: “We’re delighted with the win, but we’re not surprised. It’s not a ridiculous result.
“We kind of expected it beforehand. Did we expect it to be as comfortable? Probably not.
“We limited them to very few chances, and on another day we probably could have had six or seven goals.”