Hartlepool boss has no fear of cup defeat to South Shields

Former Sunderland star Julio Arca is South Shields' midfield inspiration.
Former Sunderland star Julio Arca is South Shields' midfield inspiration.
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Craig Harrison will not fear Hartlepool United’s testing FA Cup tie at South Shields tomorrow.

The Pools boss says defeat is not something he is contemplating at a sold-out Mariners Park.

But, if the worst came to the worst and Pools were humbled by the red-hot cup exponents, then the club would move on to their National League promotion goal.

Tomorrow’s fourth qualifying round assignment at the Evo-Stik North leaders has ‘banana skin’ plastered all over it.

South Shields, FA Vase winners back in May at Wembley, have won 51 of their last 53 matches.

Are Pools scared of the trip to South Tyneside?

“I hope not,” Harrison said. “I am not into this fear of losing stuff.

“If you start worrying about losing before the game even kicks-off then it’s not a healthy state of mind to be in.

“It’s not something I’m thinking about – I’m concentrating on winning the tie, that’s the be-all and end-all.

“What’s the worst case scenario? We get beaten and we are out of the cup.

“We’d move on – win our next three games then we are in the top three in the National League.

“But the bottom line tomorrow is we want to win, full stop.”

Harrison says the Mariners, who will feature former Sunderland and Middlesbrough star Julio Arca in the heart of their midfield, are in a “false” position.

With principal strikers Carl Finnigan and Gavin Cogdon having plundered 76 goals in 109 appearances, Shields have swept every challenge aside, losing only once in 2017.

Harrison has respect for the club who have eliminated Darlington and York in the last two rounds, and says he will be choosing his best XI.

“I intend to pick a team that will win the game, the strongest team I have available,” he said. “This is the most important game for this club at this moment in time.

“Once this is done and dusted the most important game will then be Sutton next Saturday – I don’t like looking beyond the here and now. Shields are in a false position in the English pyramid for the stature of players they have. Their chairman has invested heavily and they have a big support behind them.

“Shields are probably two or three rungs down the ladder than they should be. They have clearly proved that by beating Darlo and York and they are flying in their league.

“I have a lot of respect for them, they have a lot of high-profile players, I know Matty Pattison quite well and they have Julio Arca, to name just two.”

“It’s not going to be easy, we have healthy respect for them, but once that whistle goes I’ll be doing everything I can to beat them.”