South Shields Reserves face a tough trip to Redcar Athletic in the first round of the Total Sport Alan Hood Charity Cup on Saturday.
The Mariners will be buoyed by Wednesday’s impressive 2-1 win at Cleator Moor Celtic in the Wearside League – the highlights of which can be viewed above.
Matthew Davidson scored both of Shields’ goals against a side which finished fourth last season.
It was a first Wearside League victory for the reserves, who held a 2-1 lead into the closing stages at Coxhoe Athletic in their first game before conceding twice late on to lose 3-2.
On Wednesday, first-teamers Joss Carmichael and Barrie Smith both played the full 90 minutes for the reserves, and Smith was impressed with the quality of the team.
He said: “It was a hard game. Cleator Moor are not a bad team.
“I’ve played in the Wearside League before, and you don’t get two minutes on the ball. There’s a lot more pressing and you’ve got to play quicker.
“A couple of them used to play for Penrith so I’ve seen them before, and I think they’ll do well this season.
“The reserves are a good team, though, and it was a great win.
“I was impressed with Ewan Simpson when I first saw him a couple of years ago. Matthew Davidson scored a couple of goals and he’s a good player.
“Kevin Bolam (manager) has got a good set of young lads there, and if they keep going, they’ll get in the first team one day, without a shadow of a doubt.”
Many of the reserves side have been together as a team from the age of eight, when Bolam first set the outfit up.
He was delighted with their first Wearside League win.
Bolam said: “I was pleased with it. It was a good, battling performance after travelling so far.
“We only had one recognised centre half in the squad and we were a bit stretched, so I was really pleased with the three points.
“They’re all young kids and it’s a massive learning curve for them, but I’m really pleased with them.
“It’s a great first stepping stone for them. It’s a good competitive league, and I don’t think there will be many teams which come to Cleator Moor and walk away with three points.”
Kick-off in Saturday’s game at Redcar – who are the favourites to win the Wearside League this season – is at 2pm.
The club is delighted to announce the formation of a reserve team, which will compete in the Wearside League in the 2016-17 season.
The team will play its home games at the Harton and Westoe Miners’ Welfare Ground, with Kevin Bolam in place as manager.
More details will follow in due course.
The club would like to wish Kevin Bolam all the very best of luck in his new role with Newcastle United.
Kevin has accepted a job working as an assistant recruitment officer at the academy of the Premier League club.
Regrettably, this means he will not be able to continue his role as coach of South Shields’ Under-18s side – with whom he achieved incredible success over the years – or as chairman of the club’s youth section.
However, he will always treasure the memories of his hugely successful time with the Mariners, and the Under-18s players – some of whom he was worked with since they were just six.
The team was initially known as Whiteleas before becoming part of South Shields FC at Under-14s level.
Kevin said: “I’d like to extend thanks to everyone I have worked with, from players to parents and staff.
“I have had an incredible time with the club and the team, and I’ve loved every minute of it.
“The players deserve all the recognition for their achievements over the years.
“An opportunity came up with Newcastle which I couldn’t turn down in the end, but it wasn’t an easy decision.
“Huge thanks to the chairman, Gary Crutwell, for getting me involved with the club, and to the first-team manager, Jon King, for involving me on the coaching side with the senior squad several times this season.
“I will still help out in any way that I can, but my new role does not allow me to continue in the same capacity I have now.
“As for the Under-18s, I’ve left them in good hands, and I’m sure they’ll go on to have more great success in the future.”
The club’s chairman, Gary Crutwell, said: “Kevin has done a great job since forming the junior section of the club with Martin Urwin.
“The success he has had with his team has been fantastic over the years.
“We’d like to wish him good luck for the future, and we’ll certainly be staying in touch.
“I hope he is very successful in his new job.”
Following the departure of Kevin, Dave Simpson will now take over the coaching of the Under-18s team, with support from Gavin Bainbridge and Mark Simpson, and secretarial support from Scott Davidson.
Kevin added: “Dave has coached numerous age groups over the years, and is familiar with this age group.
“All the lads have agreed to stay on in principle, and targets have already been put in place for next season’s playing squad.”