South Shields are set to bring their pre-season preparations to an end tonight with a high-profile friendly against Blyth Spartans at Mariners Park.
The Mariners beat Newton Aycliffe 4-1 on Saturday for their fourth victory in a row, and their fourth win in pre-season over a Northern League Division One side.
The way pre-season has gone, we’ve had really good opposition all of the time and have steadily improvedJon King
Tonight, though, they will go up against a Blyth side which competes in the Northern Premier League Premier Division, and reached the third round of the FA Cup last season.
It promises to be another attractive occasion at Mariners Park, which has already hosted friendlies against Darlington and North Shields this summer.
Shields manager Jon King said: “Blyth’s manager Tom Wade and his assistant Lee Picton are good friends of mine, and it’s good for us to get really top opposition here.
“The way pre-season has gone, we’ve had really good opposition all of the time and have steadily improved.
“We need to improve even more, though, because Blyth are one of the top non-league teams in the North East and I think Lee has helped to take them onto another level.
“They’ve got some fantastic players, so it’s going to be a really tough test for us, but that’s what we want before the season opener against Northallerton on Saturday.”
Shields defender Wayne Buchanan, meanwhile, spent three years with the Spartans between 2010 and 2013, and captained the club for 18 months.
He said: “It was another very satisfying win on Saturday, and we showed great character again to bounce back after going behind.
“Tonight’s game will be a great way to end pre-season, and it will be nice to play against Blyth and see a few old friends.
“It’s a great club and it will be a good test for us to play against them.
“There are some players there who did really well last season in the FA Cup and they obviously play in a higher league than us, so it will be a good yardstick for us.
“Hopefully there’ll be another big crowd, and we’ll be able to put in another good performance.”
Tonight’s game will kick-off at 7.30pm, and will be Shields’ last fixture before Saturday’s Northern League Division Two season-opener against Northallerton Town, which will also be held at Mariners Park.
The club is still selling season tickets for the forthcoming campaign, costing £85 for adults and £55 for over-65s. To book, call 0191 537 2633.
The club’s Supporters’ Association is also meeting at Mariners Park tomorrow from 7.30pm. Memberships can be handed out at either tonight’s game or the meeting, or will be posted out ahead of Saturday’s game.