King hails players’ efforts

By Daniel Prince

South Shields manager Jon King hailed the efforts of his players following Saturday’s trip to Norton and Stockton Ancients – including one who played two games in one day!

The Mariners’ squad was depleted for the trip to the Ebac Northern League Division Two promotion chasers.

Brian Harrison and Jack Hanlon made their debuts for the club as substitutes after being drafted in on the eve of the match, which Shields lost 2-0.

Meanwhile, left-back Ewan Simpson represented the club’s Under-18s side in their lunchtime game at New Hartley, before travelling down to Norton to represent the first-team.

He was taken to the game by Under-18s coach Kevin Bolam, and King has thanked the pair for their efforts.

He said: “I’d like to thank Kevin Bolam, because the Under-18s had a game at lunchtime, and afterwards he drove all the way down from New Hartley with Ewan Simpson.

“Ewan got another 20-25 minutes, so we thanked him for that.

“He had already played 90 minutes for the Under-18s, and he still had the desire to come down and play for the first-team, which was great.

“Thanks to Kevin Bolam for bringing him down at short notice.”

King also thanked Harrison and Hanlon for their efforts, while Ryan Bolam – another of Shields’ Under-18s side – made another appearance for the senior team.

He started the game at left wing-back and played the full 90 minutes as he made his seventh first-team appearance, and King described his performance as “outstanding”.

He added: “Ryan Bolam deserves a special mention. I think he was outstanding.

“For a 17-year-old lad playing an unfamiliar position at left wing-back, he was outstanding.

“He was playing against a good, experienced player in Harrison Davies, and Harrison couldn’t live with Ryan. That’s a big compliment for a 17-year-old.

“I thought he was fantastic at left wing-back. He was up and down, with loads of energy, and he did really well.”

With Stephen Ramsey, Chris Locke, Ben Riding, Aron Burn and Chris Feasey unavailable on Saturday, while Craig Roberts had left the club in the lead-up to the game, King was forced to reshuffle his side.

He felt they deserved a point from the game, and had praise for the efforts of a number of players.

King added: “It was disappointing to lose, and two defensive mistakes cost us.

“I think we deserved a point on the day, but when you make two defensive errors the way we did against a good side like Norton, you’re going to be punished, and that’s what happened.

“A lot of players put in very good performances. I’ve managed Chris Renshaw before, and he can play at centre half. He went in there and did very well, and I think Michael Turner was outstanding at the back.

“Chris Rue had a good game sweeping in behind, James Talbot did well on the right-hand side, and Baptiste Fixot had a decent game.

“He had to come off, so we had to change things a little bit, but the lads that played did very well.

“Barrie Smith had a shoulder injury after about 20 minutes. He went down on it twice and I thought he was going to have to come off at one point.

“We were just about to make a substitution for Barrie, and he stayed on the field, and was absolutely immense.

“Barrie and Michael Turner were immense on Saturday for the team, and about four or five of the lads didn’t deserve to be on the losing side.”

Alex Kempster was handed a start, and went in alongside Paul Kane up-front.

King added: “A few lads had been waiting for a chance, and Alex Kempster got his on Saturday.

“He hadn’t started a game for a while and I thought he did very well, especially in the first half. Alex and Paul Kane up front were a real threat.

“I was pleased for Alex. He tired a bit towards the end and he came off, but I thought he was fantastic in the first half.

“He caused problems and kept the ball for us well, so I was pleased.

“I said to the lads before the game that when they get their chance, they need to make sure they take it, and I thought Alex did well, especially in the first half.”