Graham Fenton admits there were a ‘few honest words’ at half-time in South Shields’ FA Vase first leg tie against Coleshill Town.
The Mariners had underperformed in the first 45 minutes on Saturday, with Coleshill thoroughly deserving their 1-0 lead at the interval.
Fenton, and fellow joint manager Lee Picton, remained calm in the half-time break, but left the players in no doubt that they needed to ‘up their game’ if they were to keep their Wembley dream alive.
The words had an immediate effect as Shields came out for the second half sharper, David Foley grabbing an equaliser within two minutes of the restart.
Asked what the management duo had said to the players at the interval, Fenton said: “It was nothing more than we know we’re better than that, basically, and we have to up our game because we’re not showing what we’re capable of.
“There was a few honest words but nothing more that, just that if we can get our standards right we are going to cause them problems.”
Andrew Stephenson’s injury-time strike means Shields go into the second leg at Mariners Park this weekend with a slender advantage, but Fenton and the rest of the team won’t be taking anything for granted, having been impressed with Coleshill’s performance.
He added: “It was really tough. They impressed me.
“They came out and started better than we did, pressed better than we did. They are direct and physical and took the game to us.
“It looked like we were feeling them out to see what they were like.
“The second half, we came out with a little bit more drive, but I thought they deserved to be 1-0 up at half-time.
“Ultimately, we dug in and showed great determination and character to come out with the win.”
One of the players praised for his second-half performance in particular was captain Julio Arca.
The former Sunderland midfielder had been quiet in the opening period, but stepped up to the plate after the break.
Fenton added: “It was a little bit disappointing in the first half but sometimes you are not going to be totally on top of your game, and the lads really dug in.
“I thought Julio was the epitome of that. He really dug in second half and showed character and led the lads really well.”