South Shields fans will get a chance to watch some of the players of the future tonight in the FA Youth Cup.
The Mariners’ Under-18s side are taking on Newcastle Benfield at Mariners Park in the first qualifying round of the prestigious competition.
Kick-off is at 7pm, with admission costing £2.
The bar will be open as usual for the game, and all support would be very welcome and appreciated.
Former South Shields loanee Mechack Kanda struck late on for Newcastle Benfield to deny his old club maximum points at Mariners Park on Saturday.
A frustrating afternoon for Shields looked set for a positive outcome when substitute Gavin Cogdon drilled them into the lead with 14 minutes left.
However, with time running out, Kanda capitalised on a loose ball to claim a point for Benfield and halt the Mariners’ 19-match winning streak at home in the league.
Results elsewhere meant Shields stayed top of Northern League Division One, but they will have seen this as an opportunity missed, despite a good display from the visitors.
The Mariners were without the likes of Julio Arca, David Foley and Ben Riding, and Robert Briggs was restored to the starting line-up after only being fit enough for a place on the bench at Marske United in midweek.
In a scrappy opening, neither side was able to create much headway, but Briggs almost lit up the game on 14 minutes when his audacious, hooked effort from the left just cleared the crossbar.
At the other end, Shields goalkeeper Joss Carmichael was on hand to keep out an effort from Matthew Cornish, while some good work from Paul Brayson set up an opportunity for substitute Joshua Scott, who hit it over.
The Mariners continued to plug away as they tried to make the breakthrough, but Benfield proved well-organised and difficult to break down.
Danny Carson hit an effort not far wide after coming inside from the left, while Briggs went closer when his shot from a similar distance struck the bottom of the post.
Shields were handed a blow two minutes before half-time when Jon Shaw was forced off injured, and they went into the break frustrated.
They started the second half much better, though, with Craig Baxter making some surging runs down the right in front of a crowd of 1,166.
However, decent chances for David Palmer and David Carson went begging, and an even better one was missed by Carl Finnigan, who shot wide after being played in on goal.
At the other end, Shields needed to stay alert, with Benfield always threatening on the break. Dillon Morse made a number of excellent interceptions in a fine performance from the centre-back.
Baxter had a great opportunity to score after a good home move, but he put it wide, and Scott hit one off target for Benfield.
It appeared that Shields would take the points when a Baxter cross from the right was missed by Finnigan but then superbly finished by Cogdon at the back post.
Cogdon had been brought on with half an hour remaining in his comeback from a hamstring injury.
However, there was a sting in the tail for the Mariners.
A right-wing cross from the visitors was headed against the bar by Brayson, but Kanda got to the loose ball first, placing it into the bottom corner to deny Shields the three points.
The result means Benfield have now taken points off South Shields, Bishop Auckland, Shildon and Morpeth Town, as well as high-flying Sunderland RCA, so far this season.
The Mariners will aim to get back to winning ways on Tuesday when they visit West Auckland Town for a 7.30pm kick-off.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Carmichael, Baxter, Danny Carson, David Carson, Morse, Storey, Finnigan, Scroggins (c) (Cogdon 61), Shaw (Palmer 43), Briggs, Phillips (Smith 77). Subs not used: Connell, Ramsey.
Goal: Cogdon (76).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.
South Shields host Newcastle Benfield on Saturday (3pm kick-off) as they aim to stay top of Northern League Division One.
Tuesday’s 0-0 draw at Marske United left the Mariners top of the league on goal difference from North Shields.
They are unbeaten in eight games, and have won their last 19 home league matches.
However, joint manager Lee Picton has warned against complacency as Shields head into the match with Benfield, who have enjoyed some fine results so far this season.
As well as draws with Shildon and Bishop Auckland, they have beaten Morpeth Town and, most recently, Sunderland RCA, who are fifth.
Picton said: “Fingers crossed there will be another really big crowd at Mariners Park on Saturday.
“We’ve been pretty dominant at home so far this season, and we’ve just got to be careful that it doesn’t turn into complacency.
“We need to keep focussing on the things that we’re doing well and keep progressing with the things we need to work on.
“We’re confident against any side – at home especially – so we’ll be looking to pick up maximum points.”
In Paul Brayson, Benfield have one of the Northern League’s deadliest strikers.
The former Newcastle United, Swansea City and Cardiff City frontman, now aged 39, is consistently among the league’s top scorers.
Shields captain Leepaul Scroggins says the team will need to be wary of him, in particular.
Scroggins said: “Brayson always finishes as one of the league’s top goalscorers and we’ll have to keep him quiet.
“He’s not the youngest any more but he still knows where the goal is. He’s a great forward.
“They’ve picked up some great results so far. They had another great result to beat Sunderland RCA on Tuesday.
“If we turn up and play the way we know we can, though, I’m confident we will beat the vast majority of teams with the quality we have.”
Kick-off at Mariners Park is at 3pm, and admission prices – to be paid at the turnstiles – are £6 for adults, £4 for students and over-65s, and £2 for under-16s.
Below is the front cover of the programme for the game.