ALL GO­ING SOUTH AS GRAY FIRES A VOL­LEY

Darlo thumped by Shields

The Non-League Football Paper - - FA CUP SECOND ROUND QUALIFYING - By Craig Stod­dart STAR MAN: Carl Fin­ni­gan (South Shields) ATT: 1,814 EN­TER­TAIN­MENT: ★★★★★ REF­EREE: G Rhodes

SOUTH SHIELDS man­ager Gra­ham Fen­ton said his side put in their “best per­for­mance of the sea­son” af­ter thump­ing Dar­ling­ton at Black­well Mead­ows.

The Mariners bridged the twodi­vi­sion gap and strolled to a fully de­served win with Dil­lon Morse and Carl Fin­ni­gan (2) scor­ing against a Quak­ers side who were al­ways sec­ond best.

Af­ter end­ing a win­less run of seven Na­tional League North games with a 3-0 win over FC United in mid­week, Darlo went into yes­ter­day’s game with re­newed con­fi­dence.

How­ever, by half-time, Martin Gray’s men were 2-0 down and never looked like sal­vaging the tie, mean­ing Dar­ling­ton ex­ited the FA Cup at the first hur­dle for the third year run­ning.

“I’m re­ally pleased and proud,” said Fen­ton. “I’ve just told the play­ers in the dress­ing room that I’m so proud of them, the way they went about their busi­ness.

“Some­times you can come to a place two di­vi­sions above and be in awe, but our lads were any­thing but.

“We set­tled into the game from the start and stuck to the game plan. They were bril­liant at what we asked them to do, and I thought there were some tremen­dous per­for­mances with­out sin­gling any­one out.”

Evo-Stik First Di­vi­sion North side Shields took the lead on seven min­utes, Morse get­ting the fi­nal touch on a Rob­bie Briggs free-kick that had been flicked on by Jon Shaw.

The dread­ful start al­most wors­ened for Quak­ers, but goal­keeper Adam Bartlett twice de­nied Jamie Holmes af­ter Liam Marrs had given the ball away.

Dar­ling­ton im­proved steadily, with a cross from the re­called James Ca­ton al­most float­ing over the head of Shields’ keeper Jack Nor­ton.

But the cru­cial sec­ond goal came mid­way through the half. Marrs was turned eas­ily by Holmes, lead­ing to An­thony Cal­laghan’s low cross from the left be­ing turned home by Fin­ni­gan.

Af­ter that there was only one win­ner, with no sign of a re­sponse from Dar­ling­ton in a life­less sec­ond half in which they huffed and puffed but did not come close to goal.

Their hu­mil­i­a­tion was com­plete in in­jury-time; Michael Richard­son and Fin­ni­gan ex­chang­ing passes be­fore the lat­ter coolly slot­ted home.

“On another day we prob­a­bly could’ve had six or seven goals, we were a lit­tle bit waste­ful with our chances,” added Fen­ton. “That’s our best per­for­mance of the sea­son.”

But Gray was scathing in his assess­ment, emerg­ing from an hour-long post-match in­quest to blast: “That’s the worst per­for­mance I’ve had as a Dar­ling­ton man­ager in the five and a half years I’ve been in charge.

“Some very strong words were said in the chang­ing room. My­self and the staff have had a very long de­brief. Play­ers will be leav­ing and play­ers will be com­ing in. We’ve got to make changes to go for­ward. I won’t tol­er­ate this.”

“That’s our best per­for­mance of the sea­son. We could have had six or seven on any other day” Gra­ham Fen­ton South Shields man­ager

“Some strong words were said. Play­ers will be leav­ing. I won’t tol­er­ate this” Martin Gray Dar­ling­ton man­ager

PIC­TURE: Shut­ter­press

HEADS-UP: Dil­lon Morse opens the scor­ing for South Shields

NO WAY BACK! South Shields’ Carl Fin­ni­gan cel­e­brates the visi­tors’ sec­ond

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