King reflects on Willington win
By Daniel Prince
Jon King feels South Shields’ hard-fought 1-0 win over Willington in the FA Vase was testament to his side’s improvement so far this season.
The Mariners weren’t at their free-flowing best at Peterlee, but Steven Graham’s first half goal was enough to see them progress to the second qualifying round of the competition.
Shields went into the game full of confidence after a 6-0 win over Thornaby and 5-0 triumph against Tow Law Town, but were unable to hit those heights against Willington.
King, though, was pleased with the resolve shown by his team, and does not believe Shields would have won a game like that last season.
He said: “We’re not going to play fantastically well in every game, and the most important thing is the result.
“It would be lovely to play well every week, but you’re not going to. We had to dig in against Willington, who aren’t a bad side.
“I thought we could have seen the game out a bit better, our passing wasn’t at its best and we didn’t hit the target with enough of our chances.
“We made it hard for ourselves and some of the lads were getting frustrated, but it was great to get the right result.
“This time last season, we would have probably lost that tie.
“The trick is when you play badly, make sure you get the result, and we did that.
“We kept another clean sheet, and they weren’t a bad side, so to beat them 1-0 with an average performance is a credit to our players.”
King admits he was nervous in the closing stages at Eden Lane, but had praise for debutant goalkeeper Steven Hubery, who kept a clean sheet.
He added: “When it’s 1-0, the opposition is always in it. It was a bit scary for the last five or 10 minutes.
“They didn’t create much, but at 1-0 you always think that one move or one mistake could cost you.
“Steven kept a clean sheet, and the things he had to do, he did really well.
“Aidan Grant is a hard act to follow – he’s a fantastic goalkeeper – but Steven kept a clean sheet, and that’s all he can do.”
Striker Stephen Ramsey came off with a groin injury in the first half of Shields’ win, but King is hopeful of having him available for Wednesday’s Ebac Northern League Division Two trip to Brandon United.
In the FA Vase, Shields can look forward to a trip to Whitley Bay next month, and that is a game King is already relishing.
He continued: “It’s going to be a massive challenge for everyone and no-one will expect us to win, so there’ll be no pressure on the lads.
“There was pressure on us against Willington as we were the form team, at home, and we owed them one from the first game of the season that we lost to them.
“The pressure won’t be on us at Whitley Bay, and it’s a chance for the lads to go and play in front of a big crowd.
“It will get a bit more money in for the club and hopefully we’ll play a lot better.
“If we play well, I’m confident we’ll get a result.”