South Shields completed the signing of talented former Newcastle United youngster Jamie Holmes on Saturday.
The forward signed less than an hour before the friendly at Whitby Town, and scored after just 13 minutes to mark the occasion in fine fashion.
The 19-year-old had played two previous friendlies for the Mariners under the guise of a trialist, impressing in the first 45 minutes of the game against Gateshead, and scoring in the second half of the match at Blyth Spartans.
He had offers from elsewhere, but was ultimately persuaded to join Shields after sitting down with joint managers Graham Fenton and Lee Picton.
Holmes said: “I was very glad to get the deal done, because you don’t want to be waiting around so close to the start of the season.
“I wasn’t sure at first, because I had another offer, but I called Graham and Lee and they got me down to the ground and showed me all the plans.
“I don’t think they’ll be in these leagues for very long, to be honest.
“I was pleasantly surprised by everything that they said.
“There’s only one way the club’s going really, and that’s up.”
Holmes progressed through the ranks at Newcastle after joining the club during the 2010-11 season.
Last season saw him play regularly for the Magpies’ Under-23s side, while one of his most memorable moments came in 2015 when he hit a 20-minute hat-trick for the Under-18s in a game against Arsenal.
Since first linking up with the Shields squad at the start of July, Holmes – the brother of North Shields player Dean – has been impressed with the quality of his team-mates and is convinced he has made the correct decision.
He added: “I’ve been surprised by how good the players are.
“Most of them have been at professional clubs before and they’re very welcoming, so I’ve enjoyed my time here already and I’ve only been here for a few weeks.
“In terms of the coaching, I already knew who Graham and Lee were, because my brother worked with Fents at North Shields and said how good he was, and I knew Pickers from his time coaching at Newcastle, so I knew how good they were before I came here.”
Securing the signature of Holmes delighted Fenton, who was impressed with his performance at Whitby.
He said: “We’re really pleased to get Jamie over the line.
“I thought he was really bright on Saturday.
“He tired towards the end and that’s to be expected, so we’ve got a bit to work on with Jamie and a few of the other lads in terms of their fitness, as you’d expect at this stage of the season.
“I just thought his first half performance was really bright.
“He was a constant threat, and their defenders were always worried about what was happening in behind them.
“We know we’ve got players who can play in front and play tidy football, but it’s great to have that threat in behind as well.”