Ex-Newcastle striker Richard Offiong set for Wearside League debut in derby

Richard Offiong
Richard Offiong

The Wearside League season is back – with a big South Tyneside derby to get the campaign under way.

New-look Boldon CA entertain an equally revamped Harton and Westoe side at the Villa (2.30pm kick-off) with both sides looking to get their campaigns off to a good start.

For Boldon, they have a new manager at the helm in Paul Mossa, who was in charge of Durham Alliance side Horsley Hill last season. He takes over from Jason Jones.

Mossa has worked hard all pre-season with his young side – many of whom he has fetched to the club with him from Horsley Hill – to bring them up to speed with the fast pace of the Wearside League.

They’ve had a decent pre-season, including beating South Shields in the Sam Bartram Cup, although the new campaign will bring different tests.

Mossa’s young guns must adapt quickly to a different league and it will be interesting to see how they fare.

Mossa said: “We’re looking to build something special here, albeit we’re aware success in such a tough league requires time and patience.

“However, I believe the ability of the players I’m bringing with me provides us with a good platform for that.

“I am looking forward to the new season and seeing how our young players adapt to the Wearside League. Harton will be a great test for the lads but one they will surely enjoy.”

As well as a number of Horsley Hill players, Mossa has also recruited former South Shields duo Aron Burn and James Pickering.

His main signing, however, is former Newcastle United and Hamilton Academicals player striker Richard Offiong.

For Harton boss Simon Johnson, it’s also been a busy time as he’s revamped his squad.

He’s signed goalkeeper Curtis Richardson from Seaham Red Star’s Under-18s, Adam Smith and Carl Evans. Johnson will also hand debuts to new club captain Shaun Carroll and Shaun Heads, who both played for Boldon last season, as well as Kyle Houshby, who was part of Mossa’s Horsley Hill’s side.

However, Liam Clark, Adam Whitehead, Jack Burrell, Darren Wann, David Smith and Martin Nugent are all unavailable.

Johnson said: “After a very useful and very tough pre-season we have a lot of positives to take out of it going into tomorrow’s game.

“It’s a brand new team with seven or eight new faces so it has taken us time to gel.

“It will be tough against Boldon as they are in the same boat as us, with new faces also.

“I’m gutted that we have so many missing, but that’s the summer for you with people on holiday.

“But we have done our homework on Boldon and if we put a shift in and be very competitive from the first whistle until the last, we have enough quality to hurt them.”

Elsewhere in the league, Jarrow have a number of young players and are hopeful that a mix of youth and experience will enable them to enjoy a better season.

They face a difficult opener against likely promotion candidates Redcar Athletic at Perth Green.