South Shields boss Graham Fenton has called on the Mariners fans to help roar them on to FA Cup glory.
Shields host former Football League side Stockport County at Mariners Park tomorrow in a tasty second qualifying round tie.
It is the latest big game to grace the ground in recent years. Shields were backed by crowds of around 3,000 for their FA Vase quarter-finals and semi-finals last year, as well as similar size attendances for their big FA Cup clashes with York City and Hartlepool United.
With Stockport set to bring a few hundred fans of their own tomorrow, Shields are hoping the South Tyneside public turn out in force again to see if the Evo-Stik Premier leaders can upset the National League North big boys.
“It should be a big game,” said joint manager Fenton. “A couple of games lately, the atmosphere has been fantastic and people coming here have been enjoying the football the lads have been playing.
“We are certainly going to need the supporters on Saturday but equally, we have to give them something to start shouting about, and hopefully they will react to that and get a really good atmosphere going.
“You always need a good start when you are playing against higher opposition. We need a pretty quick start to settle the lads into the game and give them the confidence that they are more than capable of winning this game, though this set of players have that confidence anyhow.
“It’s easier in a game of football though if you get off to a good start.
“Stockport are a fantastically well-supported club and we look forward to welcoming them. It should be a cracking game of football.”
Shields have so far sold around 1,200 tickets to home fans, with more expected over the next 24 hours. Tickets are priced at £10 for adults, £8 for students and over-65s, and £3 for under-16s.
They can be bought by visiting www.southshieldsfc.co.uk at any time, or by visiting Mariners Park between 10am and 6pm.
Meanwhile, Stockport manager Jim Gannon has admitted he is ‘concerned’ by Shields – and has already started lining up excuses for if his side fall victims to a giantkilling.
Gannon has cited the travelling and Shields’ budget when previewing the fixture.
He said: “When you are in the National League you get the videos from the opposition’s previous game as you have to give the videos to the league and they share them with everyone. That’s fine, it’s a level playing field.
“But when it comes to the opposition from a lower level, you don’t have that coverage. Our chief scout has gone to their game and got the information.
“We have to be concerned about the opposition as they are top of the Evo-Stik Premier, they’re at home and they’ve got a lot of experience.
“And I think our fans would be surprised at the budget they’ve got. They’re the next wave of Darlingtons and Spennymoors. They’ve attracted a lot of players from the National League North.
“They’re a big, strong side and it’s obviously a tasty one for them, they’ll be relishing Stockport County coming to their place.
“We’ve learned a lot of lessons from the likes of Blyth and Darlington last season, Spennymoor. They were all tough games.
“Travel has an effect on it, you’re on a coach for three or four hours, you’re having to feed lads…
“It’s a tough fixture but we’ll deal with all that. We will do things as professionally as possible all week, do things right on the day, then you just pick your strongest side in terms of having the physicality and mentality to be aware it will be a hard game where we need to make sure we are very competitive.”
SOURCE: Shields Gazette by Ross Gregory