First-team coach Mark Scott is confident South Shields will suffer no semi-final hangover tomorrow when they return to the ‘priority’ of league action.
The Mariners suffered an agonising loss on penalties to Newton Aycliffe on Tuesday in the last four of the Durham Challenge Cup.
But Scott insists it has not been a tough job to lift the players ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Ryton and Crawcrook Albion in the league.
Shields are five points clear at the top of Northern League Division Two, and with the top three to go up, they are 12 points ahead of fourth place.
Scott said: “It hasn’t been a job to lift them (the players). Overall, that was still a good performance.
“The lads were obviously really disappointed to go out in the semi-final, because everyone wants to play in finals and that’s the way the club is going.
“The main goal has always been the league, though, and that’s still our main priority.
“The league performances have been first-class of late in some big games.
“The lads were disappointed on Tuesday, but can keep their heads held high after their performance, and we’ll go again strong tomorrow.”
Julio Arca will be available for Shields tomorrow, despite being controversially sent off in extra-time of Tuesday’s game, which was level at 2-2 after 120 minutes.
Arca’s ban is not expected to kick in for at least another 10 days, subject to any possible appeal against the suspension by the Mariners.
Scott felt Shields dealt with the perceived provocation well against Aycliffe and added: “I didn’t see the (red card) incident.
“They were clearly trying to do that (provoke) all night to him, and I was quite proud of the way the lads kept their standards of discipline.
“They acted the way this club would want them to act throughout the whole game.
“Everyone knows what challenge you face against Newton Aycliffe, and they certainly gave us that. I thought we did well against it.
“In fairness, the pitch didn’t help us. It probably became a bit more of a battle than we would have wanted.
“I’d have like to have seen us try to play a little bit more than we did, but the conditions kind of denied us that.”
Tuesday was Shields’ second penalty shoot-out defeat of the season, having also lost to Morpeth on spot-kicks in the FA Vase.
Scott said: “It was very frustrating. The lads gave their all, and to go out on penalties again after going out in the FA Vase that way, was particularly nasty.
“You can’t fault the lads for effort, though. Everyone put everything into that game.
“When we went ahead in the first half, I thought it was probably deserved.
“We probably allowed them into it a little bit, but their goal came out of nothing and got them back into it.
“I felt they came into the game a little bit more then, and the lad hit the second goal in brilliantly. It was two bizarre goals that we conceded.
“We came on strong in the second half, and went for it a little bit.
“Once we scored with about 10 minutes left, I felt at that time we were really getting on top.
“We looked like the fitter side at the time, and I fancied us to maybe even nick it in normal time, but that didn’t quite happen.
“It just wasn’t meant to be in the end.”
Shields will be without the injured Lewis Galpin for tomorrow’s 3pm kick-off at Kingsley Park, but Warren Byrne is available again after a hamstring injury.