Graham Fenton has urged his South Shields players to use a bumper Mariners Park crowd to their advantage in tomorrow’s big FA Cup tie against York City.
More than 3,000 fans are expected to watch Shields take on the Minstermen in the third qualifying round of the famous competition.
The Mariners are aiming to make the fourth qualifying round for the first time since reforming in 1974.
Tomorrow’s tie is being billed by many as the Non-League Super Cup, with the winners of last season’s FA Vase and FA Trophy going head-to-head.
With York operating two leagues higher than Shields, the Mariners go into the game as underdogs.
However, joint manager Fenton is convinced that, if they start better than they did in last week’s league victory over Clitheroe, his team can come out on top.
He said: “It’s going to be a very tough game, but we’re just looking forward to the whole occasion.
“Mariners Park is going to be packed, and we’ve definitely got to start better than we did on Saturday to give the crowd a lift.
“Then we’ll be able to feed off each other.
“The onus is on us to get off to a quick start and hopefully have a performance like the one we put in at Darlington in the last round.”
Shields’ 3-0 win at Darlington in the second qualifying round gives them confidence that they can pull off a similar result tomorrow, with York and Darlo both part of the National League North.
According to right-back Craig Baxter, though, the Mariners should not read too much into their result against Darlington – and instead treat York as a completely different challenge.
He said: “York are in the same league as Darlo, and we know we’re going to have to be at the very top of our game to beat them.
“We can’t start like we did on Saturday, because it could be a totally different story.
“Everyone has got to be on the top of their game against a team from a higher level, but we’ve worked on stuff in training and are looking forward to it.
“We’re going to have a great crowd behind us and I’m sure York will bring quite a few supporters up as well, so it should be a really good game.”
Baxter added: “We know that, on our day, we can give anyone a good game, because we’ve got a great team and a great squad.
“We know it’s going to be difficult because they’ve got a lot of experience in their team, but we’ve just got to give it our best shot.”
Kick-off at Mariners Park is at 3pm, and the winners of the tie will be one win away from reaching the first round.
Shields hope that captain Julio Arca will shrug off a leg injury to play a full part tomorrow. Arca was forced to sit out last Saturday’s win over Clitheroe, and has been battling for fitness this week.
There is not expected to be a cash turnstile in place at the match, with tickets on course to sell out today.
* Northern League club Shildon will be hoping to continue their FA Cup run, when they travel to Banbury United in their third round qualifying tie.
Banbury are currently seventh in the EvoStik South League and will be a stern test for the Railwaymen, who travel with a full squad, although some late fitness tests may be required before the team is announced by boss Daniel Moore.