King reacts to Penrith loss

By Daniel Prince

Manager Jon King says South Shields’ League Cup near-miss at Penrith on Wednesday shows how far his team has come so far this season.

The Mariners exited the competition in agonising circumstances, having let a 2-0 lead slip before losing in extra-time.

Penrith’s equaliser came in the 92nd minute, before Shields captain Barrie Smith was sent off before stoppage time was up.

The home side made their one-man advantage count by scoring two times in three minutes in the second half of extra-time, and that was enough to see the Ebac Northern League Division One side into the next round.

King was disappointed with the way his side lost, but made a point of praising their “desire and character” having played well, despite not having some of their key players.

He said: “There were lots of positives to take from the game. Our desire and character was brilliant, especially as we had a few lads missing from the squad.

“Chris Feasey and Paul Kane are big players for us, and we had to do without them.

“At the end, their manager shook hands with me and said ‘Phew’.

“If we had our full-strength side there, and kept 11 men on the pitch, I’m confident we would have won.

“It just shows how far we have come, because we went to a good First Division outfit with some important players missing and more than matched them.

“We took them right to the wire, and were unlucky not to make it into the next round.”

Penrith’s first goal – scored five minutes into the second half – got them back into the game, and arrived from the penalty spot.

King felt the awarding of a spot-kick was harsh on goalkeeper Steven Hubery, who was adjudged to have brought down Ryan Hall in the box.

He added: “It was disappointing to lose in the way we did.

“I thought the penalty was harsh, and that changed the game.

“We went into a 2-0 lead, and we could have scored another couple before half-time, which would probably have put the game to bed.

“Going in at half-time 3-0 up would have been more of a reward for us, but the penalty changed the whole game.

“The lad went round the goalkeeper and lost control of the ball – I didn’t think it was a foul.

“He got two bites of the cherry, because first of all he had the chance after taking it round the keeper, and then he got the penalty as well.”

King, though, had expected a strong Penrith start to the second period.

He was left disappointed with the way his team conceded an equaliser at the death, meanwhile, with a long ball over the top nodded on before being prodded home.

King said: “Going away to Penrith – a good First Division side – was always going to be difficult.

“At half-time, I said to the lads Penrith would probably get a good dressing down, and we expected them to come out strongly at the start of the second half.

“The next 10 or 15 minutes were going to be crucial, as they’ve got good players, especially up front.

“The front two were the ones to watch, and they were a threat, especially Ryan Hall. He caused problems.

“Once they got that goal, they had their tails up.

“We dealt with the long ball all the way through the second half, so it was really, really disappointing to concede a goal like that so late.

“It was a shock to the system, and then things got worse when our captain was sent off. It was always going to be a tall order in extra-time after that.

“I thought we were excellent in the first half of extra-time, but we had a crazy 10 minutes after the break when they got two goals, and it was game over.

“Overall, we hadn’t been as good as in the first half, but we were against good opposition.

“The most disappointing thing was that crazy 10 minutes.

“We ended up having four or five of the best chances of the game at the end of extra-time, so if we could have weathered the storm in that 10 minutes, I am sure we could have got a result.”

Shields will look to bounce back on Saturday, when they travel to face Washington in a league fixture at 3pm.