Joint manager Lee Picton declared himself more than satisfied by South Shields’ start to pre-season as they claimed a creditable 1-1 draw with Gateshead on Saturday.
A crowd of almost 1,500 at Mariners Park saw Jon Shaw opening the scoring for the home side against his former club, before the National League outfit equalised in the second half through a superb strike by Robbie Tinkler.
Over the course of the 90 minutes, a draw was a fair result, and Picton feels the game has set Shields up nicely for the rest of pre-season.
He said: “I think we can take loads out of that game.
“I was really, really pleased with particularly the first half performance, when we more than matched Gateshead.
“I saw evidence of a lot of the stuff we’ve been working on in training.
“We’ve been planting seeds with certain things and they’re just starting to come to fruition, which is great.”
There was a sense of inevitability about the opening goal, which arrived within the first three minutes.
Shields played a short corner routine, which eventually led to a pass across goal by Alex Nicholson that was tucked away by Shaw.
Shaw spent three spells with Gateshead as a striker, scoring goals aplenty, but has since transitioned to defence with the Mariners.
However, he certainly hasn’t lost his scoring touch.
Some of the Mariners’ play in the first half was extremely impressive, but Gateshead came on strongly after the break, when both sides made wholesale changes.
Picton added: “I want to thank Neil Aspin and his team for coming and giving us a game.
“I thought it was a really competitive game played in a good spirit.
“They’re a week ahead of us – they start on August 5 – and on a physical level, you could tell that a little bit.
“They dominated us physically in quite a few one-v-one situations, but I was really happy with how we dealt with a lot of things on a tactical level. We played some really good stuff at times.
“There was a passage of play towards the end of the first half when if we had scored, it would have been an early contender for goal of the season.
“We can take a lot out of the game.
“We had four academy lads on the pitch at the end, which is fantastic, and there were lots of plusses.”
Saturday was the Mariners’ first fixture since beating Cleethorpes Town 4-0 in the FA Vase final at Wembley.
Picton was delighted with the turnout of 1,449.
He said: “It seemed like an absolute age since we played at Wembley, and it was great to get back to Mariners Park.
“It was a fantastic crowd and I just want to thank the fans for coming out in large numbers again.
“To have 1,500 here for a pre-season friendly was something else.”
Shields will return to training tomorrow night before making the short trip to Boldon CA on Thursday to compete with the Wearside League side for the Sam Bartram Memorial Cup.