Pools tie a free hit for us – Shields boss Pic­ton

Sunderland Echo - - Sport -

Lee Pic­ton says his South Shields his­tory-mak­ers have a ‘free hit’ in to­mor­row’s crunch FA Cup tie against Hartle­pool United.

Shields will try to bridge a gap of three di­vi­sions as they take on Na­tional League out­fit Pools in the fi­nal qual­i­fy­ing round.

They have al­ready dumped out Na­tional League North duo Dar­ling­ton and York City, and joint man­ager Pic­ton (pic­tured) has his sights trained on mak­ing it a re­mark­able hat-trick at a sold-out Mariners Park.

He said: “We al­most had a free hit against Dar­ling­ton and York City in the last two rounds, and it’s the same again on Satur­day.

“We’ve def­i­nitely got no pres­sure on us. They are three di­vi­sions higher than us, and you can’t get away from that.

“On pa­per, they should win com­fort­ably, but we’re cer­tainly not plan­ning on that hap­pen­ing. I’m con­fi­dent that, if the play­ers can reach the lev­els they did in the pre­vi­ous two rounds, we have a real chance of caus­ing an up­set.”

Pic­ton and fel­low joint man­ager Gra­ham Fen­ton put the Shields play­ers through their paces in their last train­ing ses­sion be­fore the match last night.

Pic­ton be­lieves a fast start to get the home sup­port­ers fully be­hind the team could be key.

He added: “Get­ting the crowd on our side is a big thing for us, and might just throw them a lit­tle bit. I think they will come into the game feel­ing a lit­tle bit anx­ious and not sure of what to ex­pect.

“If we can take them out of their com­fort zone, that could gain us the up­per hand psy­cho­log­i­cally and we’ll be able to take it from there.

“We’ll be do­ing ev­ery­thing that we can, and now we’ve pre­pared the play­ers, it’s over to them to men­tally get them­selves to the place they need to be to per­form at their op­ti­mum level.

“To reach the first round would be a big achieve­ment for us, but it’s one that is now within our grasp, and we fully in­tend to make it hap­pen.”

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