JON King says his South Shields players can’t afford to feel sorry for themselves after their midweek cup exit – and insists there’s still plenty to play for this season.
The Mariners lost 1-0 at Billingham Town in the semi-final of the Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup on Tuesday, and look set for a mid-table finish in Northern League Division Two.
However, manager King has set his 15th-placed side the target of finishing in the top 10, and has now challenged his players to produce a stunning run of form to deliver that aim. Shields are 12 points adrift of 10th place with nine games to play, and know that the higher they finish, the better chance they will have of qualifying for next season’s FA Cup.
King said: “The next target is to try and finish in the top 10 to try and get qualification for next season’s FA Cup. It’s no good feeling sorry for ourselves, and we don’t want the season to peter out.
“We’ve still got a challenge, and that’s to get in the top 10.
“We’ve got some good players in the camp, and we need to get past the setback of the cup loss, because it’s gone now.
“The lads did well to get to a semi-final, but it wasn’t to be this season.
“Hopefully, we’ll have more chances of getting to the final of cup competitions in the coming years, and we want this to act as a learning curve for the players.”
Ironically, Shields face Billingham again tomorrow, this time at Peterlee in Northern League Division Two.
King is looking for a response after Tuesday’s defeat.
He added: “We were really disappointed and frustrated after Tuesday’s game.
“It was a scrappy affair, and I’m just disappointed we didn’t really have the quality on the night that we’ve had of late.
“We play Billingham again tomorrow, though, so hopefully we can put in a stronger performance to get three points on the board.”
Kick-off is at 3pm at Eden Lane, with Aron Burn a doubt for Shields.