Manager Reaction: Easington

By Daniel Prince

Jon King says he found South Shields’ 7-3 defeat to Easington Colliery in the Durham Challenge Cup on Tuesday hard to believe.

Shields had two men sent off and let a 3-1 lead slip as they exited the competition at Peterlee.

The defeat came despite a superb hat-trick from Paul Kane and a fantastic start, which saw the Mariners fly out of the blocks.

In the second half, Lee Maitland and Barrie Smith were sent off, and the final score left manager King feeling “shell-shocked”.

He said: “I think after Saturday’s game against Norton and Stockton Ancients, I used the word shell-shocked, and it’s the same again.

“We started the game as well as I can remember.

“Paul Kane and Stephen Ramsey were fantastic throughout, and didn’t deserve to be on the losing side. I really felt for those two in particular.

“We were dominant in the first 15 minutes on Saturday, but when we had a setback our heads dropped for 20 minutes. The same happened against Easington.

“We were so dominant in the first 15 to 20 minutes, and then they got a horrible goal from our point of view to pull it back to 2-1.

“Professional footballers in the Premier League, earning £100,000 a week, make mistakes, so we’re going to make mistakes.

“When we conceded that first goal, though, it was like we conceded five. The attitude and the body language just went down for 20 minutes.”

King says he sensed at half-time that the game was not over, despite the fact Shields led 3-1.

He added: “Another great finish by Paul Kane in first half stoppage time put us 3-1 up, and that perhaps gave us a bit of falseness at half-time.

“I sensed in the dressing room that a few of the lads thought it was game over.

“For as much talent as we’ve got in the dressing room, you’ve got to match that with desire.

“Things don’t always go OK. You’re going to have ups and downs in your life.

“Things happen, and you’ve got to be big and strong, and get over it, and we didn’t.

“We scored the third goal at a great time, but then we conceded two horrible, schoolboy goals at the start of the second half.

“Then the indiscipline kicked in, which is unacceptable, and cost us massively.

“You’re just thinking, ‘What on earth is going on?’

“Before the sending offs, we had gone 4-3 down, and those three goals absolutely killed us.

“I had said to the lads at half-time, ‘You can make this as easy or as hard as you want’, and they certainly made it hard for themselves.”

King accepts some will look at the scoreline, and the red cards, and question what is happening at the club.

However, he insists you “had to be there” to appreciate the circumstances around the defeat.

He said: “You had to be there. Whatever I say, people will look at it and think Shields got a battering. It wasn’t really the case overall.

“Everyone would have expected a cricket score in our favour after about 20 minutes, and it should have been.

“It doesn’t always go for you, and it was only one setback, one goal. You would think we had conceded five goals by the way we reacted.”

In the first half, Shields midfielder Alex Kempster was stretchered off with a knee injury, but King is at this stage unsure how long he will be out for.

He explained: “It’s disappointing for Alex, because the lad has done well and he’s a good player.

“Apparently his studs got stuck in the grass and his knee went the other way.

“It’s another blow. I’m not a medical expert, but I think he’ll be out for a while.”