South Shields manager Julio Arca admitted his side had not been at their best as they saw off former Northern League rivals Bishop Auckland in the FA Cup second qualifying round.
The Mariners were expected to progress by keeping alive their faultless record at the 1st Cloud Arena with a win against Chris Hardy’s men but they were given a severe test of their credentials by a Two Blues side Arca believes will secure promotion at the end of the season.
He told The Gazette: “As a manager you are always looking to get a good result and a good performance and sometimes you don’t get the two of them.
“Today, it wasn’t our best performance if I am being honest and the players know that already. But when things like that happen you just have to get through the game and make sure you work hard and do your best to win the game. In part of the second-half we looked better, we looked dangerous.
“They came here to win the game, it’s not like they came here to sit to try and get a draw for a replay. Maybe our players didn’t expect that but credit to Bishop Auckland for putting on a great performance.”
The visitors enjoyed some promising moments during a goalless first half as John Howard and Louis Johnson were denied by brave blocks from Mariners defensive duo Tom Broadbent and Dillon Morse. Arca’s men had their own opportunity to edge in front as half-time approached when Joao Gomes directed a header beyond the far post after getting on the end of a cross from Paul Blackett.
It was former Gateshead striker Blackett that finally opened the scoring with just over ten minutes remaining as he converted from the penalty spot after being upended in the visitors area. The Two Blues were reduced to ten men moments later when Danni Lay was shown a second yellow card and the tie was settled as Martin Smith produced a stunning strike from the resulting free-kick.
The Mariners will now go into Monday’s third qualifying round draw and Arca has admitted he is keen to experience a more FA Cup magic after securing his first win in the competition as a manager.
The former Sunderland star said: “We are trying to stay in the competition for as long as we can because we know how important it is for us, for the players to have a chance to compete against teams higher in the leagues and financially it will help the club if we can stay in the competition for a long time.”