South Shields manager Jon King admitted his side could have played better at Bishop Auckland on Friday – but was ‘over the moon’ after they booked their place in the next round of the FA Vase with a 2-1 win.
Ben Riding’s header and a late winner by Warren Byrne secured a 14th consecutive victory for the Mariners, in front of a travelling support thought to be in excess of 500.
In the video above, King talks about the ‘unbelievable’ support, and why he was delighted his team rewarded those who made the journey.
He also discusses the character of the side, and talks about the upcoming challenges.
VIDEO: Daniel Prince. STILL IMAGE: Peter Talbot.
Warren Byrne scored a dramatic late winner as South Shields marched on with a superb 2-1 FA Vase win at Ebac Northern League Division One side Bishop Auckland on Friday.
The Mariners were made to work all the way against a Bishops side which was reduced to 10 men during the first half, and they secured a remarkable 14th consecutive victory thanks to goals from Byrne and Ben Riding.
A tremendous crowd of 844 – well over half of which appeared to be Shields supporters – watched on as the teams battled for supremacy at Heritage Park.
The first half was a somewhat quiet affair in front of goal, but it was anything but quiet off the pitch, where the travelling fans made their presence felt and backed their team to the hilt.
Bishops created an early opportunity which Stuart Thompson chipped over from just outside the box, while Shields goalkeeper Scott Pocklington – formerly of the Two Blues – produced a superb save with his right foot to deny Andrew Johnson, who shot across goal after being found by David Palmer.
The first clear-cut opportunity for the Mariners came when a ball over the top played in Adam Sakr on the inside-right of the box, but home goalkeeper Mark Bell beat it away to keep the scores level.
Shields took a grip of the game from there, and a long throw from Riding almost fell to Daryll Hall before the hosts scrambled it clear.
Riding was denied just after the half-hour when Hall’s header across goal was touched by a defender just before he could divert it in, and a crucial moment in the game arrived soon after.
With 36 minutes on the clock, Wayne Phillips nicked the ball in midfield and went on a driving run through the centre before playing Byrne in on goal. Thomas Bott tried to save the hosts with a sliding tackle, but brought down Byrne and was given his marching orders for a professional foul.
Shields were unable to take advantage before half-time, and after the break it remained difficult to break Bishops down.
Michael Turner tried his luck from distance and bounced a shot wide, while at the other end, Pocklington had to tip over a dangerous cross from the left and Thompson curled an effort past the post.
Shields’ patience was beginning to be tested, but on 62 minutes, they broke the deadlock.
Smith received the ball just inside the Bishops half and floated a ball into the box which was met by Riding, and his header from 10 yards looped up and over Bell and into the opposite corner.
Supporters rushed to the front of the stand to celebrate with Riding and his jubilant team-mates, but the job was not yet done for the Mariners.
Substitute David Foley almost put a nail in the hosts’ coffin with their next attack, though, as he cut inside from the right before drilling a shot not far wide.
Bishops fired a warning to their visitors when the ball was played through to Johnson and he was just beaten to it by Pocklington, who took a kick in the process.
Adam Nicholls also twice fired wide as the Two Blues searched for a leveller, and when Sean Tarling went down in the penalty area with 11 minutes left, they were handed a penalty. Johnson stepped up and drilled it low into the bottom-right corner to draw Bishops back on level terms.
That set up the possibility of extra-time, but just as they had done at Chester-le-Street in midweek in the Durham Challenge Cup, Shields came up with an answer.
Julio Arca had an effort deflected over, and the resulting corner from the former Sunderland and Middlesbrough midfielder dropped for Leepaul Scroggins. He held off the challenge of his defender and played the ball to Turner, whose delicate pass across goal was gratefully received by Byrne and dispatched into the net to spark more scenes of huge celebration.
This time, there was no way back for Bishops, who instead spent much of the closing stages penned inside their own half.
Foley could have made it 3-1 when he latched onto a long pass by Pocklington, but Bell kept out his effort across goal, and Arca had a low free-kick saved.
Shields’ players were given a heroes’ reception as they returned to the dressing rooms after the final whistle following a 14th consecutive victory.
They march on in the FA Vase, with the draw for the next round set to take place on Monday.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Pocklington, Galpin, Turner, Hall, Riding, Smith, Sakr (Foley 56), Scroggins (c), Byrne (Briggs 88), Arca, Phillips. Subs not used: Young, Bulford, Ramsey.
Goals: Riding (62), Byrne (85).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.
South Shields are set to have a near-full strength squad to choose from for Friday’s FA Vase tie at Bishop Auckland.
Striker Lewis Teasdale is suspended, but Mariners manager Jon King is expected to be able to call upon the rest of his squad for the 7.45pm kick-off at Heritage Park.
Shields will be backed by a large travelling support, with more than 130 fans having signed up for coach travel to the game.
The Mariners will be attempting to bridge a one-division gap, with Bishops currently mid-table in Ebac Northern League Division One, but go into the game in extremely confident mood.
They have won their last 13 games in all competitions, with the most recent victory coming on Tuesday as a last-gasp goal secured a 2-1 Durham Challenge Cup triumph at Chester-le-Street.
Shields manager King said: “Tuesday was a tough game against a good side.
“A few lads hadn’t played for a while, so it was always going to take a little bit of time to get back into the swing of it.
“We rested a few players and still come away with a good result against a good side.
“That has set us up for a big occasion against Bishop Auckland. We’re possibly going into it as underdogs, like we did against Washington.
“The lads will need to raise their game again. We’ve watched Bishop Auckland on a few occasions and they’ve got some very good players, but although it will be tough, if we show anything like we can, we’ll get the result we need.”
King is expecting the large travelling support to make a big difference for the Mariners.
He added: “Even on Tuesday, we must have had between 150 and 200 there on a cold, October night.
“It’s great to have all of those fans travelling down on the buses, and we’ve also got to remember all of those who will be making their own way there. I’m sure we’ll have a massive following.
“Hopefully we’ll get a result, and I’m sure we will do if we play anywhere near like we can.”
David Foley scored twice in Tuesday’s win, and is relishing competing in the FA Vase.
He said: “I think a few of us had our heads on the Friday game on Tuesday. It would be very nice to go far in this competition.
“I didn’t know much about the competition until I came here, but it offers a chance to play at Wembley, so that’s enough motivation for anyone.
“The fans are going to travel in their numbers and they have been brilliant here from the word go. I’m sure we’ll take a lot of supporters down, and they will be a big help.”
Kick-off at Heritage Park is at 7.45pm, while the supporters’ coaches will depart Mariners Park at 5.30pm. For enquiries, please call 0191 454 7800.
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.