South Shields are all set for the big kick-off tomorrow after a summer of change – but know they are being thrown in at the deep end against Marske United.
The Mariners have strengthened their squad over the summer with nine new signings since winning Northern League Division Two last season.
We’ve got big players in our side who I think are ready for a big testLee Picton
Many of them are in line to make their competitive debut for the club at GER Stadium in a tasty-looking FA Cup extra preliminary round tie.
The game represents a return to the competition for Shields after an absence of two seasons, and they will be going up against a Marske side which finished second in the Northern League last season, and won it the year before.
Shields are being tipped to be one of Marske’s main challengers this season, so tomorrow’s game gives both teams an opportunity to get an early edge.
And after a pre-season consisting of six wins, one draw and a solitary defeat, Mariners assistant manager Lee Picton feels the team is ready for the test ahead.
He said: “Marske will undoubtedly be strong.
“They’ve been a top Northern League side for a considerable period of time now, and it will be a real tough test.
“We’ve got big players in our side who I think are ready for a big test, though.
“Hopefully we’ll rise to the challenge tomorrow.”
One of the Mariners’ key players tomorrow will be striker Jon Shaw, who arrived after leaving Gateshead during the summer.
He goes into the 3pm kick-off on the back of a hat-trick in the 5-2 win at Boldon CA which concluded the club’s pre-season.
He said: “This is going to be a tough game and we know that. We’re straight out of the blocks against a tough Marske side.
“We’ve had a good week of training, though, and are ready to go for it.
“At this level, money from cup runs is very important, so they’ll be up for it, but our coaching team will be on us. We’ll be on each other as well, because we demand high standards.”
GER Stadium’s postcode is TS11 7BW. Limited places on a coach to the game are available from 0191 454 7800.
Should there be a draw, the replay will take place at Hebburn Town’s Hebburn Sports and Social Ground on Tuesday, with pitch renovation work at Mariners Park being completed. The first game there will be on August 23.