South Shields preparing to face familiar FA Cup opposition ahead of trip to Shildon
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Three victories separate the Mariners and a cherished spot in the first round, and Saturday’s assignment sees them take on a side they defeated in last season’s competition.
Shields were 3-1 winners on that occasion at Dean Street but required two late goals to secure their progress, and manager Kevin Phillips is expecting another difficult test against the Northern Premier League East Division side.
The Mariners made it into the second qualifying round with a dramatic 3-2 win over Workington, who operate at the same step of the non-league pyramid as Shildon, with two Michael Woods goals in the final three minutes turning the tie on its head.
Phillips is considering making changes from the team which triumphed 2-0 at Lancaster City in midweek, but is confident that whichever squad he selects will be capable of making it six consecutive wins in all competitions for Shields.
He said: “It’s a dilemma between wanting to stick with the same team and trying to continue the positive momentum, and freshening it up.
“We have shown in pre-season and our competitive fixtures so far that no matter who plays, we look the same as everyone knows their job and can execute it.
“It would probably be foolish of me if I didn’t freshen it up.
“Whichever team we pick, it will be a strong side and we want to go there and win.
“It’s a local derby and there’s a lot riding on it, but it’s a game we’re looking forward to.”
Shields’ win at Lancaster moved them four points clear at the top of the Northern Premier League, and their performance hugely impressed the manager.
Phillips added: “I was absolutely delighted with the game on Tuesday.
“We were outstanding in the first half, which was probably our best 45 minutes of football so far this season in the league.
“The football in the first half was excellent but Lancaster reacted well in the second half and threw everything at us.
“We showed another side of us after the break in terms of our battling qualities to get the clean sheet and another win, meaning we take plenty of confidence into Saturday’s game.”
Shields’ injury situation is improving, though forwards Darius Osei and JJ Hooper are set to again miss out on Saturday, with Jordan Hunter also unlikely to feature.
Midfielder Callum Ross has returned to training after a knee injury, but it remains to be seen whether Saturday’s game will come too soon for a place in the squad.
Kick-off at Dean Street – which has a post code of DL4 1EZ – is at 3pm and admission prices are £9 for adults, £6 for concessions, £5 for students with a valid ID card and free for Under-14s with a paying adult.
Supporters will be able to pay for their admission at the turnstiles, but only cash will be accepted.