Match Preview: Norton and Stockton Ancients vs South Shields
South Shields’ attentions turn to the Durham Challenge Cup on Wednesday as they travel to Norton and Stockton Ancients.
The Mariners reached the semi-final of the competition last season, before being knocked out by eventual winners Newton Aycliffe on penalties at Mariners Park.
They go into their opening match in this season’s Challenge Cup looking for a seventh consecutive victory in all competitions.
Norton are 10th in Northern League Division Two, having been relegated last term.
After the jubilation of Saturday’s 2-1 FA Vase victory over Runcorn Linnets at Mariners Park, Shields joint manager Graham Fenton insists motivation will not be an issue on Wednesday – as the Mariners are aiming to fire in all competitions.
He has hinted there may be some changes to the starting line-up for the 7.30pm kick-off.
He said: “Every competition is important for us.
“With this squad, if we make changes, we know it doesn’t weaken the side.
“We’ll be making changes again, because there were a few tired legs at the end on Saturday.
“That will give other players a chance to come in and stake their claim for a spot in the next game.
“Competition for places is really hotting up.”
Goalkeeper Liam Connell, too, is eager for Shields to maintain their fine form in Wednesday’s game.
Connell was instrumental in the Mariners’ dramatic Vase win on Saturday, making an incredible save in the 97th minute which saw them avoid extra-time, and a possible replay.
He said: “Every cup and every game is important.
“We need to dig deep and grind the results out, because they’re coming thick and fast.
“We’ll probably be better off when we go to one game a week, which will give us the chance to get all the lads fit and ready.
“We’ve got an excellent squad and it’s great to be involved in such a talented group like this.”
Shields are set to be without striker Gavin Cogdon, who suffered a groin strain against Runcorn Linnets and is expected to be out for at least four weeks.
Kick-off at Norton Sports Complex, which has a post code of TS20 1PE, is at 7.30pm.