Durham Challenge Cup final preview: South Shields vs Billingham Synthonia
South Shields compete in their first cup final of the season on Wednesday when they travel to Hartlepool to take on Billingham Synthonia in the final of the Durham Challenge Cup.
The 7.30pm kick-off is taking place at the Northern Gas and Power Stadium (TS24 8BZ), also known as Victoria Park, the home of Hartlepool United.
Northern League champions Shields go into the match looking to collect their second trophy of the season, with two cup finals still to come.
However, they will be coming up against a Synthonia team on a high after winning promotion from Northern League Division Two by finishing third this season.
Synners also caused the Mariners a number of problems last season, beating Shields in the league and Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup.
Shields joint manager Lee Picton says his side are in no doubt that they face a difficult challenge.
He said: “We’re under no illusions going into this game.
“The fact Billingham Synthonia have reached the final, and their successful promotion-winning season in Division Two, shows that they’ve got a strong side.
“We also believe they have some players that are, in all reality, First Division standard. We certainly won’t be taking them lightly.
“From our perspective, though, we’ve got an unbeaten run that we’d like to keep going.
“There has been a lot of talk about the potential of winning all four competitions, and we want this to be a step towards that. There shouldn’t be any complacency in the camp.”
This is the first of two cup finals for the Mariners this week, with a trip to Whitley Bay to take on North Shields in the League Cup to follow on Saturday.
Wednesday’s match will see a return to Victoria Park for former Hartlepool players David Foley and Darren Holden, while others in the Shields squad also have fond memories of the ground.
Picton added: “We’ve got lads in our camp who have their own personal memories of Hartlepool. David Foley and Darren Holden played there.
“Then there are players like Michael Richardson and Alex Nicholson who have had a memorable night there with Blyth Spartans in the FA Cup.
“It’s always nice to play at a league ground – although it’s not certain how long it will remain that way – and makes a final like this that bit extra-special.”
Tickets for the game – costing £5 for adults and £2 for concessions – will remain on sale at Mariners Park throughout Wednesday.
There will be cash turnstiles in operation on the night, although they are not expected to be for the section of the stadium housing the South Shields supporters.
Julio Arca will miss out on the game through suspension, while injured trio Dillon Morse, Leepaul Scroggins and Stephen Ramsey are also unavailable.