South Shields joint-manager Graham Fenton says the club’s FA Cup campaign proves they are not “a million miles away” from National League opposition.

Despite the defeat, The Mariners’ deserved huge credit for requiring a side ranked three divisions higher to come from behind against them.

Shields had led at the break through Carl Finnigan but a lapse in concentration for five second-half minutes saw Pools take full advantage and turn the game around.

And Fenton, who is close to celebrating a year in charge at Mariners Park, believes his side is already at a higher level.

“We’re not a million miles away, we’re at that level already,” Fenton said.

“We are always looking at how we can improve and progress, and the players are massively receptive to that.

“We’ll keep just doing what we’re doing – we’ll keep on with that mentality – we want to get better all the time and I’m sure we’ll be in a good place in a few years’ time.”

Fenton admitted feeling disappointed with the defeat but has backed the Mariners to have more special moments in the future – by targeting an FA Trophy run.

“We’re massively disappointed and that shows we are at the minute and where we are trying to get to.

“We’re heading in the right direction. Obviously, our priority is the league to get promotion again.

“You never know, we might get on a good FA Trophy run this season as well.”

The 43-year-old also praised the South Shields supporters for continuing to play their part in the club’s recent success.

He said: “The [FA Cup] run has been brilliant, the performances against Darlington and York – thoroughly deserved to win against football clubs like those two.

“The whole community is pulling together with the football club and it’s great to be around.”