Match Preview: South Shields vs Stockton Town, pre-season friendly
South Shields’ long wait for a game at 1st Cloud Arena comes to an end on Saturday when Stockton Town visit for a pre-season friendly (3pm kick-off).
It will be the Mariners’ first home match in 261 days after the coronavirus pandemic brought the 2020-21 season to a premature close.
Tickets for the game are available by clicking here.
Supporters can look forward to the potential of seeing summer arrivals Conor Tee, Ntumba Massanka and Will McGowan in action, with the team set to wear the striking Nike away kit which was launched on Thursday.
They will also be able to witness at first hand the extensive ground improvements which have been made during the close season, including new terraced areas behind both goals, a new pitchside perimeter fence, a freshly-laid ground surface throughout the ground and new seats in the existing main stand.
The new main stand on the Shaftesbury Avenue side of 1st Cloud Arena remains under construction, with the seats in the existing stand to be available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Shields go into the match after beginning their pre-season programme with a 1-0 victory at Newton Aycliffe on Tuesday, where Massanka scored the only goal.
South Shields manager Graham Fenton said: “Such a lot has happened since we last played a home game, and we hope to provide some great entertainment for our fans to watch in the coming weeks as we prepare for the new season.
“The players have trained extremely hard in preparation for this moment, and we are now into the most important period as the matches begin.
“We are hugely impressed by the fitness levels the lads have been able to reach and these games now give them an opportunity to build their match sharpness and develop a greater understanding of their roles in the team.
“It’s up to them over the next few weeks to nail down their place in the team for our league opener on August 14th.”
Captain Robert Briggs added: “I know the fans will have missed it as much as the players and staff, and we can’t wait to play in front of them again.
“The last few seasons have been a real mental battle that myself and all the players need to use as motivation going into the new season and the push for promotion.
“It has been very difficult to keep spirits high without football and a lot of other things in life over much of the last year, but all of the lads kept themselves in good shape with home workouts and running sessions during the time we weren’t able to play or train.
“Because of that, as soon as training began we were already in a good place fitness-wise so it was a relief as well as a great feeling to be back around each other.”
INFORMATION FOR SUPPORTERS
The turnstiles at 1st Cloud Arena will open at 12.30pm and purchasing a ticket in advance is strongly recommended, as the capacity of the ground has been set at 975 for this game because of coronavirus restrictions. A decision on whether a cash turnstile will be opened will be communicated on the morning of the match.
Tickets are priced at £6 for adults, £4 for students and over-65s, and £2 for under-16s.
Supporters are advised that, because of the ongoing restrictions, food and drink will not be available for purchase from the outdoor kiosks. Drinks will be served indoors on a strictly table service only and the balcony will be closed on this occasion. This is set to be the final match played under these restrictions, which are due to be lifted on Monday in time for the friendly with Consett the next day.
Seats in the existing main stand will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Turnstile 1 and 2 will be ticket-only and turnstiles 3 and 4 will also be in operation, as will turnstiles 5 and 6, which are situated beside the underpass next to the 3G pitch.
Merchandise, including the 2021-22 home shirt, will be available to buy from a new pop-up shop – situated in one of the kiosks by the players’ tunnel – on the day of the match.
A match programme, covering the game against Stockton and the subsequent meeting with Consett on Tuesday, will be available for £2. The front cover is pictured below.