Match Preview: Stourbridge vs South Shields, Buildbase FA Trophy
South Shields face a 450-mile round trip to the West Midlands on Tuesday as they bid to keep their Buildbase FA Trophy hopes alive.
The Mariners are away to Stourbridge in the third qualifying round of the competition, with the winners set to host National League North side Southport in the first round.
Shields have beaten Stalybridge Celtic and AFC Rushden and Diamonds so far in the Trophy but are expecting their biggest test yet, not least because of the travel.
Joint manager Lee Picton insists it’s one the Mariners are relishing, though.
He said: “The first challenge for us is to deal with the journey itself.
“We’re at a serious disadvantage to be travelling that far on a Tuesday, but at the same time we have to embrace the challenge head on.
“There’s no doubt that there will be one or two other occasions this season when we will have to pick up the right result after a long midweek journey.”
Stourbridge have enjoyed some impressive cup exploits so far this season and reached the first round of the Emirates FA Cup before losing to National League outfit Eastleigh in a replay.
They are currently 13th in the BetVictor Southern Premier Central, although they have several games in hand on all of those around them and will be perched comfortably inside the play-off positions should they win a decent proportion of them.
Picton knows the kind of challenge which awaits his side on Tuesday.
He added: “I’ve been to Stourbridge two or three times myself in my previous role at Blyth Spartans and it’s always a tough place to go.
“They’re a relatively well-supported club and they’ve always had a strong side for this level of football.
“They’ve been knocking on the door for promotion to step two for a number of years and will undoubtedly provide a really tough test for us.”
Shields go into Tuesday’s match with doubts over the fitness of Gary Brown (calf) and Jordan Hunter (viral infection), and Josh Gillies and Luke Daly continue to miss out with their long-term injuries.
Captain Jon Shaw, though, is in contention to return from a calf injury.
The winners of Tuesday’s tie will host Southport on Saturday, December 14, which will add to the motivation of Shields pair Nathan Lowe and Jason Gilchrist, who joined the club from Southport.
Kick-off in Tuesday’s game at War Memorial Athletic Ground – which has a post code of DY8 4HN – is at 7.45pm.