South Shields have been handed an away tie against National League North outfit Darlington in the second qualifying round of the Emirates FA Cup.
The tie is expected to take place at Blackwell Meadows on Saturday, September 16.
It will be a first meeting between the clubs since Darlington visited Mariners Park for the first game after Shields’ two-year exile in Peterlee in July 2015. They ran out 3-0 winners that day.
Darlo were then an Evo-Stik Premier Division side, but have since won promotion to the National League North, and finished fifth last season.
They started this season with a superb 2-0 win at Salford City – one of three consecutive victories to open the campaign.
They haven’t won any of their five games since then, most recently losing 2-0 at Southport on Saturday, and are seventh in the table.
The last competitive meetings between South Shields and Darlington took place in the 2012-13 season, when Martin Gray’s team won the Northern League. They beat the Mariners 2-1 and 3-0 in that campaign as they romped to the title in a season which also saw Shields relegated.
Darlo share Darlington RFC’s ground at Blackwell Meadows, and played their first game there last December, having previously played at Bishop Auckland’s Heritage Park. Crowds are regularly above 1,500 and often top 2,000.
The Mariners will be competing in the second qualifying round for the first time since 1997. They reached this stage by following up a 3-1 win over Bridlington Town with a 2-0 success at Witton Albion on Saturday.
The winners of the tie will be potentially two ties away from the first round proper.
Details on ticketing for this game will be announced in due course.
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.