Preview: South Shields vs Bridlington Town, Emirates FA Cup
South Shields are set for their opening game in this season’s Emirates FA Cup when Bridlington Town visit Mariners Park on Saturday.
Kick-off is at the earlier than usual time of 12.30pm, with the match to be streamed live across BBC Sport’s online platforms.
The Mariners have progressed beyond the preliminary round just once since the turn of the millennium, but will be hoping to do so in front of the cameras – and another big crowd.
Shields lost in the extra preliminary round to Marske United last season, but joint manager Graham Fenton is hoping they can go on a run in the competition this time around to help gather momentum.
He said: “The Emirates FA Cup is something we can focus on this year.
“It’s a big competition for us, because if you can get on a good run, it brings in some good revenue for the club as well.
“If you get through three or four rounds, the money starts rising quite rapidly.
“It would give us some good momentum as well in terms of bringing more people in through the gates.
“If we can keep on improving in the next few weeks, and get a positive result on Saturday, hopefully we can go on a decent run in this competition.”
However, Shields are expecting a difficult test against Bridlington, who defeated Northern League outfit Billingham Synthonia 2-0 in the extra preliminary round.
The two clubs last met in the first round of the FA Vase in 2009, with Bridlington going on to win 2-0.
They are now managed by former professional footballer and boxer Curtis Woodhouse, and finished third in the Northern Counties East League Premier Division last season – a division which was won comfortably by the Mariners’ FA Vase final opponents, Cleethorpes Town.
Fenton added: “Bridlington will be a decent team.
“They played against North Shields in pre-season, so I’ve tapped into their knowledge of them.
“You know what it’s like at this stage of the season, though. You don’t know whether that was their starting team for the season.
“They might have a few changes. The research that we did for Tuesday’s game against Brighouse Town was of a completely different team.
“There were three players who started the game that we had watched, so it’s difficult at this level, especially at the start of the season, to know if you’ve had them watched, whether that is actually their strongest team or not.
“We’ll take things from what we’ve been told, but maybe expect one or two changes in the line-up as well.”
Shields will be without in-form striker Carl Finnigan, who begins a three-match suspension after the club’s appeal against the red card he received in the win at Trafford last week was rejected.
The Mariners welcome Gavin Cogdon back from his holiday, but Julio Arca remains away, with the midfielder set to return to training on Tuesday.
The presence of the BBC cameras may add to the atmosphere at Mariners Park, believes Fenton, who is hoping for another bumper crowd.
He said: “It’s fantastic. It will hopefully create a bit more of an atmosphere with the cameras being here, and it gives the supporters who haven’t got the opportunity to come to the game, the chance to watch it on a live stream.
“We’re delighted to have them, and hopefully the BBC will be here more and more often over the next few years.”
Kick-off is at 12.30pm, and admission – to be paid at the turnstiles – is £8 for adults, £6 for students and over-65s, and £2 for under-16s.
Supporters can also watch the game from the balcony at Mariners Park by purchasing a wristband for £3. They’ll be available from behind the bar in the Barbour Lounge, but are restricted to 100 people because of safety reasons.
Supporters are advised that, because this is an FA competition game, there are different rules regarding the consumption of alcohol.
The FA rules dictate that alcohol must not be consumed outside of the clubhouse or marquee from 30 minutes before kick-off, until the end of the game.
We thank all fans for their continued support in adhering to the rules, as the club can be penalised if they are not followed. Thank you in advance for your co-operation!
We also hope you can stay with us through the afternoon and into the evening at Mariners Park.
Singer Jonathan Page will be performing in the marquee after the game, while the downstairs bar will be open until late.
If this is your first visit to Mariners Park and you would like some directions, please click here.
Thank you for your fantastic support.