South Shields qualified for the quarter-finals of the FA Vase for the first time since 1976 after seeing off Team Solent 5-2 on a memorable day on the south coast on Saturday.
The Mariners were made to work by the university outfit, who fought back after going behind to an Alex Nicholson strike early on.
After Solent equalised, home skipper Jesse Waller Lassen hit a penalty against the post in first half stoppage time, which proved to be a real turning point.
Shields wrestled back control after half-time, retaking the lead through an own goal before David Foley put them further ahead.
Although the hosts pulled one goal back, the Mariners went on to seal the victory in the closing stages, with substitute Carl Finnigan putting them 4-2 up and then captain Julio Arca scoring a stunning goal from 40 yards to spark jubilant scenes among an incredible away following of over 450 in Southampton.
Shields now await Monday’s draw for the last eight. For periods in the first half on Saturday, though, it looked doubtful they would be in it.
They were almost rocked in the opening stages when goalkeeper Liam Connell had to beat away an effort from Adeoye Olumuyiwa.
Shields were not firing on all cylinders, but Foley was denied by a fine save and Gavin Cogdon headed an effort against the post as they started to take control.
A period of pressure was rewarded when Nicholson played a corner short to Cogdon, who gave it back, allowing Nicholson to run into the box and sweep the ball into the bottom corner.
It was his first goal for the Mariners, and some time to get it.
The university outfit responded well, with Connell having to tip a Waller Lassen free-kick over the bar.
The hosts levelled soon after, with left-back Curtis Thorn clipping a ball over the top for Jim Orvis, who touched it past Connell.
Robert Briggs saw a good shot saved at the other end, but Shields were on the back foot.
Oluwatore Adekule had two glorious opportunities, but hit one wide from in front of goal and was denied by Connell with the other.
Two minutes into stoppage time, with Cogdon off receiving treatment for a head injury, Solent were awarded a contentious penalty.
But Waller Lassen could only hit against the post, with Connell doing brilliantly to tip the rebound over the bar.
In the second half, Shields were improved, with Wayne Phillips curling a shot onto the roof of the net before they took the lead again when Foley’s ball across the box was turned into his own net by Ellis White.
Within three minutes, the Mariners extended their advantage as Briggs clipped a ball over the top for in-form Foley to run onto, and he clinically slotted home.
Briggs hit the bar with an audacious flick but the hosts were not done, and pulled a goal back through Patrick Nolan 13 minutes from time.
They should have levelled, but substitute Lewis Pitts could only head straight at Connell.
Shields took advantage, with Finnigan firing them 4-2 ahead after more good work by Foley, and then Arca sealing an excellent afternoon with his moment of magic, as he dipped an effort over the goalkeeper and underneath the crossbar from 40 yards.
That sparked jubilant scenes at the final whistle as fans spilled onto the pitch to celebrate with the team.
Shields now go in search of a 15th consecutive win when they host Hartlepool United in the quarter-final of the Durham Challenge Cup on Tuesday.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Nicholson (Holden 86), Shaw, Morse, Arca (c), Briggs, Phillips (Smith 76), Cogdon (Finnigan 62), Richardson, Foley. Subs not used: Stephenson, Ramsey.
Goals: Nicholson (19), White own goal (53), Foley (56), Finnigan (84), Arca (90+4).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.
South Shields make the long trip to the south coast on Saturday for the FA Vase fifth round tie with Team Solent.
The club has so far sold more than 300 match tickets for the game in Southampton, with tickets remaining on sale from Mariners Park or by calling 0191 454 7800.
Tickets can also be bought from the home club by clicking here – Team Solent also indicate that they will be sold at the turnstiles on matchday, but it is advisable to secure tickets in advance.
The match is being held at Test Park, which has a post code of SO16 9BP, with a kick-off time of 3pm.
Club sponsor Westoe Travel has limited additional places available on coach and train travel to the game. For all of the information on that, or to book, call them on 0191 455 2292.
For those travelling by plane to Southampton Airport, the distance from the airport to Test Park is 7.3 miles. Click here for directions via Google Maps.
Supporters taking the train to Southampton Central Train Station are advised that there is a 4.3 miles distance to the ground. Click here for directions via Google Maps.
For those driving to the game, meanwhile, the following advice is given by South Shields supporter Dave Rowlings, who lives in Southampton and regularly makes the long drive…
“I have made the journey to and from Shields dozens of times by road and I have tried all different routes.
“I think the best and easiest is A1 – M1 – Off at Junction 15A and take the A43 towards Oxford – M40 for one junction and then A34 to M3 to Southampton.”
When you reach the end of the M3, the directions to Test Park given by the home club are as follows.
At junction 13, use the left two lanes to exit towards Southampton Docks/Bournemouth, and merge onto the M27.
Leave at junction 3 onto the M271 (Southampton), taking the first slip road off the M271 and then first exit off the roundabout.
Carry on to the next roundabout and take the second exit, continuing straight ahead. At the traffic lights, turn right then immediately right again into Lower Brownhill Road. Continue as far as you can and the entrance to Test Park is on your left.
Supporters are advised that parking at Test Park is relatively limited, with about 60 spaces available.
The entrance to Test Park is at the end of a long, narrow lane, with coaches expected to come in through a different gate from the housing estate adjacent.
We thank everyone who is making the incredible effort to come down to Southampton at the weekend, and very much look forward to seeing you all there.
Match tickets can now be bought for South Shields’ trip to Team Solent in the FA Vase.
The fifth round match, scheduled for Saturday, January 28, has generated much interest since the Mariners defeated Morpeth Town 4-0 in the previous round last Wednesday.
Tickets cost £6 for adults, and £3 for concessions and under-16s.
They can be bought by calling the club on 0191 454 7800 or visiting Mariners Park during our opening hours, which on weekdays is between 9am and 9pm.
Meanwhile, places on transport organised by club sponsor Westoe Travel to the game in Southampton are selling fast.
A first coach is now full, and the company is now taking bookings for a second.
Just like the first coach, it is an executive coach with a toilet and reclining seats.
Those who would like a place on it are asked to get in touch with Westoe Travel as soon as possible over the phone on 0191 455 2292 or via email at email@example.com
More details on the travel deals offered by Westoe Travel can be found here.