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.
Louis Storey scored a dramatic late winner as South Shields made it a club record-equalling 20 victories in a row on Wednesday.
Storey’s 87th minute header secured a vital 1-0 win at Newcastle Benfield in Northern League Division One.
On a tough night, Shields looked set to drop two points in the title race, but their win closed the gap to leaders North Shields to eight points, with the Mariners having two games in hand.
It was not a vintage performance by Shields on a pitch which made passing football difficult.
Benfield had an early opportunity to open the scoring, but Joshua Scott spurned it as he hit one over.
At the other end, a header from Carl Finnigan took a bobble off the pitch and was grasped at the second attempt by home goalkeeper Andrew Grainger.
More action followed in the 12th minute as Grainger saved a Finnigan shot outside the area, and the officials ruled it had not struck his hand.
Benfield countered, and John Campbell looked odds-on to open the scoring, only for Liam Connell in the Shields goal to produce a fine save.
Connell had a superb game between the sticks, and was also on hand to save well from Paul Brayson after his low effort looked set to sneak in.
At the other end, Finnigan had a shot deflected just wide, and the teams went in level at half-time.
Finnigan had a great chance to break the deadlock when Alex Nicholson found him with an excellent through ball, but he could only shoot over.
Benfield had more than their fair share of opportunities, too.
They almost took the lead with 64 minutes on the clock when Campbell’s free-kick from 20 yards took a deflection and looked set to wrong-foot Connell.
However, he would not be beaten, and stuck out a hand to brilliantly keep out the effort.
The Mariners seemed likely to have to settle for a point, until substitute David Foley’s shot was deflected out for a corner with three minutes left.
Andrew Stephenson curled in the set-piece and it was met by Storey, who sent a fine header beyond the defenders on the line to seal the three points.
It was an excellent moment for Storey, who has only recently returned from a five-month lay-off for a broken leg.
Shields are back in action on Saturday, when they take on fellow title contenders Shildon at Mariners Park.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Callaghan, Lough, Shaw, Arca (c) (Storey 58), Nicholson (Foley 58), Phillips, Finnigan, Stephenson, Richardson. Subs not used: Parkin, Holden, Briggs.
Goal: Storey (87).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.
South Shields defender Louis Storey is set for a period on the sidelines after suffering a broken leg and ankle ligament damage.
The 22-year-old sustained the injury during Tuesday’s 4-1 win at West Auckland Town. It is likely to keep him out until the New Year.
The injury is a distal spiral fibula fracture, as well as ankle ligament damage.
He will see an orthopaedic consultant on Friday, when he will discover the full extent of his injury.
South Shields joint manager Lee Picton said: “Losing Louis to long-term injury is a massive blow for us and we all feel gutted for him.
“He has shown some very positive signs in the early part of the season, and was just starting to build excellent relationships with some of his centre-back partners.
“I am sure, though, that he will come back fitter and stronger than ever. He is a very positive lad.
“We are going to have to look to strengthen in that area now and find a solution.”