Match Preview: South Shields vs Newport Pagnell Town
South Shields and Newport Pagnell Town go head-to-head for a place in the semi-finals of the Buildbase FA Vase at a sold-out Mariners Park on Saturday.
A ground record crowd of more than 3,000 is expected for the quarter-final tie.
Both clubs are aiming to reach the last four of the competition for the first time in their history.
Shields joint manager Lee Picton has challenged his side to deal with such a big occasion.
He said: “We’re all aware of how many tickets have been sold and what kind of experience it’s going to be for everyone concerned.
“We’re going to have to deal with the occasion. To be honest, there have been a couple of similar occasions already this season where we’ve perhaps not done ourselves justice or been near the top of our game.
“Hopefully those experiences that we’ve had already this season in front of a packed Mariners Park will give us the confidence to put a better show on.
“Fingers crossed we can do that, because if we do, we’ve already proved that we’re more than a match for any side at this level.
“It’s about focusing on us, getting our levels right and being as good as we can be on Saturday.
“Our sole focus has just been about just coming up with a real solid gameplan, and identifying how we’re going to go about our business and execute that gameplan.”
Newport Pagnell are 11th in the United Counties League Premier Division, and reached this stage of the competition with a dramatic 3-2 win over Northern League outfit Sunderland RCA in the last round, after extra-time. They had been 2-0 down at half-time and did not score their equaliser until deep into second half stoppage time.
Julio Arca insists Shields just have to concentrate on themselves, though.
He said: “I think this is going to be one of South Shields’ biggest games for many years.
“The managers have been saying to us that we need to perform better than we did in the last two big games we had at Mariners Park, against Morpeth and North Shields.
“We didn’t play they way we know we can in those two matches.
“It will be incredible to have so much support behind us. It’s fantastic for the club and shows how much it has grown over the last 18 months.
“Everyone’s eyes are going to be on us on Saturday and that is something we should be relishing as players.
“I believe it’s in our hands. If we perform the way we know we can, I think our quality will shine.
“We need to do the basics right, play the football we like to play and work hard.”
Shields defender Darren Lough is expecting an “incredible” atmosphere at Mariners Park.
He said: “We’ve had a big week of preparation and two training sessions to get us ready.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to put on a big performance in front of a big crowd.
“The atmosphere is going to be incredible and I just hope we can put in a performance to go into the next round.
“It’s a cup game and anything can happen on the day.
“They’re coming up here and know what we’re going to be like.
“It will come down to us and how we perform. If we play well, I’m confident we’ll win the game.”
Shields will be without injured trio Leepaul Scroggins, Barrie Smith and Stephen Ramsey, while Anthony Callaghan is cup-tied and Iulian Petrache is suspended.
Kick-off at Mariners Park is at 3pm.