Joint managers Lee Picton and Graham Fenton spoke about the future of a number of players at Thursday’s question and answer session with South Shields supporters at Mariners Park – and revealed goalkeeper Craig Turns had agreed a return to the club.
Picton and Fenton chatted with fans for one hour and 45 minutes at the Members’ Club event.
The pair discussed the future of a number of players.
Fenton said: “Darren Holden has left the football club for the foreseeable future.
“We felt it was only right – as well as he did for us when he got his opportunities last season – to let him go and allow him to play more regularly.
“We felt that he might not get as many opportunities as he’d like next season, and had to be honest with him.
“It’s the same with Iulian Petrache. Before he joined us, he had been used to being in a full-time environment with all of his clubs, and he wants to get back to that so is exploring his options.
“We can’t provide him with a full-time training environment to get him back as sharp as he would like.
“Louis Storey will be with us next season. He suffered a bad leg break last season and did extremely well to get back to the level he did towards the end of the campaign.
“We’re hoping that he’ll have a strong off-season, then a really good pre-season to get as sharp and fit as possible, and then hopefully be pushing to get into the team.
“Jordan Blinco will do pre-season with us. He will be with us to see what levels he can get to.
“He joined us towards the end of last season and did well when he had his opportunities. We were delighted with him.
“He has had that real setback of being released from a Premier League club. Lads often find it difficult to get over that.
“He has got his head around the fact he might be playing at this level, and hopefully we can benefit from his services next season.”
Picton said: “With Jordan Blinco and Louis Storey, as well as Craig Turns, who we’ve brought in as a back-up goalkeeper to Liam Connell, we’ll start pre-season with 19 players, which is two or three less than we ended last season with.
“We’ve brought in Craig because we felt a little bit exposed at times last season having just one genuine goalkeeper in Liam. It was always on our agenda to bring in a second goalkeeper
“The one player that hasn’t been mentioned so far is Stephen Ramsey.
“His leg is still in quite a bad way after he broke it towards the end of last season.
“We’ve had a conversation with him and his first priority is to get himself fit and then to try and work his way back into the first-team fold.
“We’ve kept that one open with Stephen.
“He has been part of this club for such a long time and deserves more than anyone else to be able to fight for his place in the squad, so that will happen.”
A full transcript from the Q&A will be published on the club website on Monday.
South Shields further strengthened their title hopes with a comfortable 4-0 win over Newton Aycliffe on Tuesday.
Shields enjoyed almost total control from the outset at Mariners Park – after the game was delayed by half an hour because of problems with the floodlights.
When the match finally did get underway, it took just three minutes for the Mariners to take the lead.
Michael Richardson curled in a superb free-kick delivery from the left, and Aycliffe defender Daniel Mitton could only head the ball into his own net.
After taking an early advantage, Shields never looked likely to let the visitors back into it.
Jamie Owens flashed an effort over for Aycliffe, but that was a rare opportunity.
Shields fielded a side showing seven changes from Saturday’s win at Ryhope Colliery Welfare, and one of those who kept his place was Barrie Smith in the centre of the park.
He put in an impressive performance, and sent a half volley narrowly wide as he tried to extend the Mariners’ advantage.
The second goal came in the 24th minute for Shields after a fine team move, which ended when Craig Baxter’s low ball in the box was slid home by Jordan Blinco on his home debut.
It was Blinco’s third goal for the Mariners in two games, and he almost had another when he went on a strong run before seeing his low effort tipped behind by former Shields goalkeeper James Winter.
Just more than 10 minutes before the break, the points were as good as wrapped up when Wayne Phillips’ inch-perfect cross from the right was headed in by Romanian defender Iulian Petrache.
Smith was inches away from making it 4-0 shortly before half-time, but his effort was deflected not far past the post.
The second half was a lesson in keep ball from the hosts as Aycliffe sat deep.
Richardson and David Foley both had shots saved by Winter, while the visitors were reduced to 10 men when Scott Howes received a second booking.
Shields’ dominance of the ball was even more apparent after that, and they went close a number of times in the closing stages.
Foley went the closest as he stabbed an effort narrowly wide from the edge of the box.
It looked all set to end 3-0, but with the last kick of the game, Richardson powered a low free-kick into the net to make the scoreline even more comfortable.
The Mariners are now 11 points behind North Shields at the top, and play one of their four games in hand on Thursday when they travel to Sunderland RCA.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Jameson, Baxter, Callaghan, Lough, Petrache, Arca (c) (Storey 59), Smith, Phillips, Blinco (Stephenson 68), Richardson, Foley. Subs not used: Connell, Cogdon, Morse.
Goals: Mitton own goal (3), Blinco (27), Petrache (34), Richardson (90+4).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.
South Shields secured their place in the quarter-finals of the League Cup on Tuesday after seeing off Penrith 4-1 at Mariners Park.
The Mariners looked comfortable throughout against their Cumbrian opponents as they kept their challenge on four fronts alive.
Romanian defender Iulian Petrache scored the pick of the bunch with a stunning strike from distance, just hours after signing for the club.
There were also goals for Michael Richardson and Dillon Morse, before the victory was wrapped up with an own goal.
Shields were immediately on the front foot in front of a crowd of 606 at Mariners Park.
Stephen Ramsey almost turned an Alex Nicholson cross home, and Gavin Cogdon drilled an effort not far wide as the hosts attacked with purpose.
Their deserved breakthrough arrived in the sixth minute after good play by Ramsey, who threaded the ball through for Cogdon.
He touched it beyond the goalkeeper, and Richardson showed great determination to get to the loose ball before the despairing defenders to force it into the net.
Shields enjoyed almost complete domination in the rest of the first half, without being able to convert their possession into further goals.
Wayne Phillips had a shot from distance deflected narrowly wide, as did Ramsey, while Richardson went close after showing great skill to beat a defender.
At the other end, Liam Connell was rarely tested in the Shields goal.
The Mariners continued to consistently threaten the visiting backline, but they held firm until the break, with Cogdon going closest when his effort was deflected just past the post.
After half-time, Shields picked up where they left off, with Richardson shooting not far wide.
The second goal finally arrived in the 56th minute when Petrache brought the ball forward in the centre before firing in a superb strike off the post from 30 yards.
It was soon 3-0 when Petrache’s defensive partner Morse got on the scoresheet, forcing a cross from Phillips beyond the line.
Ramsey and substitute David Foley went close to grabbing the fourth, while Shields introduced teenagers Ewan Simpson and Ryan Bolam from the bench in the last 20 minutes.
Good pressure by Bolam forced an own goal from Penrith’s William Paul, who turned a low Nicholson cross into his own net.
Paul redeemed himself just minutes later, scoring Penrith’s consolation with a low shot past Connell.
However, there was no route back into the game for the Cumbrians.
Shields have now won 12 games in a row in all competitions, and travel to Jarrow Roofing in the league on Saturday.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Nicholson, Petrache, Morse, Arca (c), Smith, Phillips (Simpson 65), Cogdon (Foley 61), Richardson, Ramsey (Bolam 71). Subs not used: Shaw, Briggs.
Goals: Richardson (6), Petrache (56), Morse (58), Paul own goal (73).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.