Julio Arca says South Shields’ players are determined to “make history” – as they stand so close to a first appearance at Wembley.
The Mariners battled to a 2-1 win at Coleshill Town in Saturday’s Buildbase FA Vase semi-final first leg, meaning they just need to avoid defeat in this weekend’s return leg at Mariners Park to complete the job.
Former Sunderland star Arca said: “This is massive for everyone involved.
“We’re so close to making history for the club, and everyone knows that.
“You could tell on Saturday that we were under pressure a little bit. We showed some nerves at the beginning, but it’s normal.
“At this stage of a competition like this, you will feel the nerves.
“In the end, we dealt with them well and got the right result.”
Coleshill caused Shields some real problems and led with Jordan Nadat’s goal at half-time, but David Foley levelled early in the second half and Andrew Stephenson hit a last-gasp winner.
Arca added: “It’s always nice to win playing the way we normally do, but in a competition like this, it doesn’t matter how you win. You need to get through.
“We showed character in the second half and showed the physical side.
“It was a good win and hopefully we can finish it off.”
Joint boss Lee Picton is looking for a much-improved display in the home leg.
He said: “We were obviously delighted to take a 2-1 lead back up to the North East, but there were lots of holes in our performance and lots of things that need to be addressed ahead of the next game.
“I’ve got enough experience, particularly in this competition, to know that semi-finals can do funny things to you and I certainly wasn’t expecting a pitch perfect performance.
“It did surprise me at times though just how far off we looked at times.
“We did get marginally better in the second half and managed to get the two goals, which will hopefully serve us well in the second leg.”
Shields have now won 23 games in a row in all competitions.
At one stage on Saturday, though, Picton would have settled for a draw.
He added: “I said to Graham (Fenton) with about 10 minutes to go that I’d take a 1-1 at that stage.
“We nicked one, and it has put a slightly different dimension on the second leg.”