Graham Fenton warns his South Shields squad ahead of FA Trophy clash

South Shields have been warned they will have to improve to keep their FA Trophy dreams alive this weekend.
Sunderland loanee Jordan Hunter celebrates victory with South Shields earlier this season.Sunderland loanee Jordan Hunter celebrates victory with South Shields earlier this season.
Sunderland loanee Jordan Hunter celebrates victory with South Shields earlier this season.

The Mariners kick-off their involvement in the competition this season when they travel to Stalybridge Celtic.

It is a little over two weeks since the sides met in the league at Mariners Park, with Robert Briggs netting a stoppage time winner from the penalty spot to seal a 2-1 victory for Shields.

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If they repeat their performance of that night tomorrow, joint manager Graham Fenton has warned his team they may face an early elimination from the Trophy.

He is respectful of the threat posed by a Stalybridge side which sits 11th in the BetVictor Northern Premier Division and impressively won 2-1 at Warrington Town last time out.

Fenton said: "Stalybridge have got real threats in their team.

"We've gone through the game we played against them earlier in the month and have taken what we needed out of that.

"Now we need to see if we can make improvements on the day.

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"We'll have to nullify their threats a little bit better than we did in the league game.

"We want to go as far as possible in this competition so it's an important day."

Shields won 2-0 at Ryton and Crawcrook Albion on Wednesday to progress to the second round of the Durham Challenge Cup, where they will host Billingham Town.

Lee Mason opened the scoring before teenage academy prospect Will Jenkins added the second on his senior debut for the Mariners.

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The performance of Jenkins - along with fellow debutants Sam Hodgson and Mathew Wade, who came on as second half substitutes - drew praise from Fenton.

He added: "Jenks was top class throughout the game.

"His general application was good, he worked hard, held the ball up when he needed to, ran in beyond when he needed to and finished it off with a really quality goal too.

"We've got to bed the academy players in slowly and they did themselves no harm on Wednesday.

"It was great to get Hodgy on and he showed some real brightness at times, and Matty Wade was excellent when he came on in giving us some real energy down the right-hand side.

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"None of them did themselves any harm, but we're top of the league because the team has been doing well and it's easier for young lads to break through when the team is really struggling.

"They just have to keep improving, keep working with Jon Shaw and Wess Brown in the academy, keep taking their opportunities when they train with the first-team like they have been doing and have that enthusiasm in their application to get better all the time."

Shields are hoping to welcome back captain Jon Shaw after his recent calf injury and there is a doubt over Nathan Lowe, who limped off during last Saturday's draw with Grantham Town with an ankle injury.

Luke Daly remains out with a knee injury.

Kick-off at Bower Fold - which has a post code of SK15 2RT - is at 3pm.