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.