Jon King believes his South Shields team is set for their toughest test so far this season tonight as they attempt to reach the final of the Durham Challenge Cup.
The Mariners are taking on Newton Aycliffe at Mariners Park in the semi-final, in what is among the club’s biggest games in recent years.
Shields last won the competition in 1977, and have not reached a final in any cup since 2010.
Tonight’s match will see them face an Aycliffe side which has enjoyed an excellent season so far in Northern League Division One.
Peter Dixon’s team is third in the table, and King says each of his players will have to be on top of their game if they are to reach the final.
He said: “This is a massive game against one of the best teams in the First Division, and we know they’re going to give us a massive test.
“Newton Aycliffe have got good players throughout their team.
“I know Peter Dixon very well and he’s a good friend of mine.
“All of his teams always work really hard and are aggressive, so we’re going to have a tough game.
“It’s a semi-final, and we both want to get to a final, so it’s going to be a really, really tough game, and probably the toughest we’ve had this season, along with the match against Morpeth in the FA Vase.
“We need to be at it, we need to perform well and we need to show a different side to our game, because it will be a really tight and aggressive game.
“We’ll need to be men, and we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
King is hopeful Shields will be backed by another big crowd at Mariners Park after 903 supporters saw them defeat Chester-le-Street Town 2-0 on Saturday.
And he feels the fans could make all the difference to his players in what he expects to be a closely-fought match.
He added: “If we ever needed the South Shields public to get behind us, it’s for this game.
“We had a disappointment in the Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup against Billingham Synthonia last week, but this is a chance for the club to get to a final.
“We haven’t been to a final for six seasons, so we really hope that the South Shields public will get behind us yet again and get themselves down to Mariners Park.
“We’ll certainly need as much support as possible, and our supporters have been superb for us all season.”
Kick-off at Mariners Park is at 7.30pm, with admission - to be paid at the turnstiles - costing £5 for adults, £3 for students and over-65s, and £1 for under-16s.