South Shields begin their latest FA Cup campaign as they bid to emulate last year's historic achievement
South Shields begin their latest FA Cup campaign on Saturday as they bid to emulate their historic achievements of a year ago.
Last season, the Mariners reached the first round of the prestigious competition for the first time since reforming in 1974, beating higher-ranked opposition including FC Halifax Town and Southport along the way.
Their opening tie this term pits them against Shildon, who are one tier below Shields in the Northern Premier League East Division after winning promotion from the Northern League last season.
Bobby Moore’s side have begun life at that level with three wins and a draw from their four games, and they count former Shields academy graduate and loanee Will McCamley among their ranks.
Manager Graham Fenton is expecting a difficult afternoon for his Mariners side at Dean Street.
He said: “We’ve done our homework on them and come up with a gameplan.
“Shildon is never an easy place to go and with the strong start they’ve had to the season, we know they’re going to provide us with a real test.
“Bobby gets them organised and we’ll give the tie all of our due care and attention.
“Another positive result and performance is our aim because we know how important this competition is.”
Shields go into the first qualifying round tie buoyed by Monday’s 2-0 win at Scarborough Athletic, which moved them to the top of the Northern Premier League Premier Division table.
Fenton insists there are plenty of improvements which can still be made, though.
He added: “We’ve only dropped two points so we’re pleased with the start we’ve had in the league.
“We weren’t great in the second half against FC United and we know we can be better in general, but that has to be the mentality.
“It’s not a case of us being top of the league, winning five out of six and just being content with that.
“We’re top of the league and want to get better and be as good as we can be.”
Shields are expected to be without midfielder Nathan Lowe, who sustained a hamstring injury in the Scarborough match.
Joao Gomes remains a long-term absentee after undergoing knee surgery but there are hopes that defender Jon Shaw will be in contention following a groin injury.
Kick-off at Dean Street – which has a post code of DL4 1HA – is at 3pm and admission prices are £9 for adults, £7 for concessions and free for under-14s with an accompanying adult.