Mixed emotions for South Shields joint-manager after FA Cup draw hands Mariners a trip to Cheltenham Town
South Shields joint-manager Lee Picton admitted that he had “mixed emotions” after his side were handed an away tie at SkyBet League Two club Cheltenham Town in the FA Cup first round.
The Mariners secured their place in Monday night’s draw as goals from Darius Osei and Robert Briggs helped them to an impressive 2-0 win against National League club FC Halifax Town on Saturday.
They will now prepare to take a step up in class after they were paired with a Cheltenham side that are sat in the third and final promotion place in League Two after winning five of their opening eight fixtures of the season.
After drawing league opposition, Picton admitted that the tie shows just how far the club has progressed in the last five seasons – but did concede that the fact his side won’t be backed by a vocal travelling support has taken some of the shine off a historic occasion.
“There’s mixed emotions about that one,” he told The Gazette.
“You always dream about getting a Football League opposition in the FA Cup, but I guess a combination of being away from home, and away from home with no crowds just puts a little bit of a dampener on it.
“But it’s a huge, huge test for us as a team and as a club and a test that we are really looking forward to.
“You’ve always got to put it against the backdrop of where the club was literally five years ago.
“This kind of scenario would have been unthinkable five or six years ago.
“We have always got to remind ourselves of that, it’s a huge challenge and one we are really, really looking forward to.”
The Mariners will make the 520-mile round-trip to Cheltenham on the weekend of Saturday 7th November – although a final date for the game is yet to be confirmed as 16 first round ties will be broadcast by either the BBC or BT Sport.
Any ties that are not selected for live broadcast will be live streamed by the home club.
After securing £20,625 in prize money by overcoming Warrington Town, Ashton United, Southport and FC Halifax Town to reach the first round, South Shields will collect a further £22,629 if they can pull of a giant-killing at Whaddon Road.