Birtley Preview

By Daniel Prince

South Shields will look to book their place in the semi-finals of the Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup tomorrow (Tuesday) when they host Birtley Town at Peterlee.

The fixture was due to be held at Birtley, but after three postponements in the space of four weeks, the tie was reversed to Eden Lane.

Shields go into the match on the back of Saturday’s 2-0 loss to Team Northumbria, which was their first game in three weeks.

Manager Jon King was left frustrated by the way that game slipped away from the Mariners, but says his team is now fully focused on tomorrow’s quarter-final.

He said: “Saturday was a disappointing day for us, because Team Northumbria, as good as they were in the first half, did not have to produce any real quality to beat us.

“They were definitely the better side before half time, and they probably should have been a goal up.

“We got to grips with them after the break, though, and I felt we were the more likely side to score before they took the lead.

“Both goals were sloppy from our point of view, but we’ve moved on from that now and are looking forward to the quarter-final.”

Shields and Birtley last met in November at Birtley Sports Complex.

Birtley ran out 3-1 winners on that occasion, and the sides are separated by just one place and four points in Ebac Northern League Division Two, with Birtley, in 15th, having played one more game than 16th-placed Shields.

King wants his side to target silverware this season, but knows his side faces a tough task at Eden Lane.

He said: “We’ve got a home tie, which is a positive, and we’ve been waiting for weeks to play this game.

“This is a massive game for us, and definitely the biggest of the season so far.

“We’re not going to get promoted or relegated, and this is a chance for the club to get some silverware.

“We’ve not had any silverware for a few seasons, but if we get to the final, we will have good support behind us.

“We’re going to do everything we can to get the right result and get through to the next round, but we know we’re going to need a star performance to get the result we want.”

The winners of tomorrow’s tie will travel to Billingham Town in the semi-final of the competition.

The match kicks off at 7.30pm at Eden Lane, and Shields will be without Chris Renshaw, Craig Roberts and David Molloy.

Niki Lawson and Michael Turner are expected to return to contention for the Mariners, though.