Two down, two to go for South Shields

South Shields celebrate winning the Durham Challenge Cup last night, beating Billinghamn Synthonia 2-0. Picture by Peter Talbot
South Shields celebrate winning the Durham Challenge Cup last night, beating Billinghamn Synthonia 2-0. Picture by Peter Talbot
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South Shields boss Graham Fenton is gunning for a treble – mafter watching his side claim a second trophy of the season with a 2-0 Durham Challenge Cup final win over Billingham Synthonia last night.

Goals either side of half-time from Andrew Stephenson and David Foley meant the Mariners lifted the cup for the first time in 40 years.

It added to the Northern League title they claimed a fortnight ago, and sets the side up nicely for a third tilt at a trophy this season, when they take on North Shields in the League Cup final at Whitley Bay on Saturday.

The FA Vase final follows on May 21.

Shields put out a strong team last night, rejecting the chance to give a couple of squad players a run-out, and Fenton says that showed how much they wanted to lift the Durham Challenge Cup, despite having other priorities this season.

He added: “I don’t want to disrespect the competition but everyone knows the first two competitions you want to win are the league, because that means you’ve been the best team all season long, and a national competition.

“But we were in this competition to win it and it’s not as if we put the reserves out, we had a strong team out there.

“It’s a real pleasure. We haven’t won the competition since 1977, so it’s a monkey off the back.”

Shields struggled to break down Second Division Synthonia in the first half, with Stephenson’s opener coming on 40 minutes, from Wayne Phillips’ low ball into the box.

They were much improved after the break though, and could have added many more to Foley’s strike which came just 90 seconds after the restart, tapping in after a Michael Richardson miscue.

“First half, we played all right at times, but we knew if we upped our game we’d cause them problems and that’s the way it worked out,” said Fenton. “It was a decent first half, but a particularly positive second half.”