JON King has backed more of South Shields’ successful Under-18s side to make an impact at senior level this season after Ryan Bolam’s record-breaking debut last weekend.
Bolam, 16, became the club’s youngest goalscorer in the modern era when he netted as a substitute in a 4-1 win at Stokesley last Saturday.
The midfielder also came on for the closing stages of Tuesday’s 1-1 draw at Ryton and Crawcrook Albion, and is one of a number of the club’s Under-18s side to have impressed in senior training sessions this season.
Shields are fifth in the Durham County FA’s Under-18 league after stepping up a level this season, and King has been impressed with the standard of players produced by Kevin Bolam’s side.
He said: “Ryan did very well on his debut and got himself a goal, and I’m chuffed for the lad. He’s only a young lad and we’ll have to look after him, and use him patiently, but I’m really pleased for him.
“We’ve got to be patient with the young lads, but we’ve got a good relationship with Kevin Bolam and the Under-18s, with four or five of the lads training with us every week.
“No doubt there will be a few more from the Under-18s side getting minutes for us before the end of the season, and it’s only going to benefit us and the players.
“Ryan is going to go back and play for the Under-18s, and he’s going to be better for the experience of playing with the senior team.”
David Molloy scored a last-gasp equaliser in Shields’ draw at Ryton in midweek, and King says that “felt like a win” ahead of tomorrow’s game against Ryhope CW.
He added: “Because we scored with the last kick of the game, the draw at Ryton felt like a win.
“We came away with a point against a very good side, and we thoroughly deserved it. It’s going to be a tough game against Ryhope, though, as they are another very good team.
“We drew 1-1 at their place in August after having our goalkeeper Brett Wilson sent off very early on, and if we can repeat that sort of performance tomorrow – I felt we deserved the three points that day – that would be fantastic.
“We’ll need to improve on our ball retention, as that was not great on Tuesday, and if we do that, I’m confident we can get a positive result against Ryhope.”
Shields’ game against Ryhope in Northern League Division Two will take place at 1.30pm at Peterlee due to ongoing floodlight problems at the Eden Lane ground.
The Mariners will welcome back midfielder Barrie Smith from suspension for the game, although Lee Maitland remains banned.
Long-serving striker Stephen Ramsey will be presented ahead of the game with an award after he made his 250th appearance for the club on Tuesday.