South Shields youngsters ready for Hartlepool United challenge in FA Youth Cup
South Shields' impressive youngsters are looking to take another giant step in their development on Friday when they bid for a place in the third round of the FA Youth Cup for the first time.
The young Mariners are taking on Hartlepool United at Mariners Park as they compete for the right to travel to Fulham in round three.
Shields were beaten at this stage of the competition last season by Lincoln City and have enjoyed another tremendous run this time around, seeing off Gateshead, Carlisle City, North Shields, Harrogate Town and Morecambe so far.
They are now expecting their most difficult test yet with so much at stake.
Jon Shaw and Wess Brown’s side have performed admirably so far this season and are now hoping for another bumper crowd at Mariners Park for the youngsters’ biggest match to date.
Academy and Recruitment Manager Brown said: “From our perspective it is great to come up against a local Academy and we know quite a few of their players, so it makes for an interesting game.
“We believe this will be a pretty similar match to the one we experienced in the first round against Morecambe.
“We will continue to play the South Shields way and the lads are on a high at the moment, with some of them getting opportunities to train and play with the first-team, and the performances across both leagues and cup competitions having been good.
“We’ve watched a bit of Hartlepool and expect them to be less direct than Morecambe were.
“We also expect them to bring a decent following, and hopefully we will get another huge backing ourselves, which gives the lads the extra push they need sometimes.”
Striker Sam Hodgson is expected to captain Shields in Friday’s match.
Hodgson has scored 12 goals in 10 appearances across two seasons in the FA Youth Cup, and is raring to go.
He said: “We’re expecting a difficult game.
“We know quite a bit about each other already and I’m sure it will be an entertaining match for everyone who comes along.”
Kick-off at Mariners Park is at 7pm and admission prices are £3 for adults and £1 for concessions.