South Shields Football Club is pleased to announce its thriving Academy structure has been extended to Foundation phase teams.

In an exciting development for talented young players in the North East, new Under-9s, Under-10s and Under-11s sides will be added to the club’s set-up as the pathway from Academy to first-team football is further strengthened.

The groups will be led by Foundation phase lead Nathan Kew, a hugely-respected UEFA B Licence coach who also leads the delivery of SSFC Foundation’s programmes in schools and the community.

Players will train two evenings a week under the tutelage of highly-qualified coaches, play league matches on Sundays and be involved in national-based tournaments and matches, with access to strength and conditioning coaching to further aid their progress.

Kew said: “This is a very exciting step for the Academy as we ready ourselves to welcome more of the brightest young footballers in the region into our set-up.

“I’m very grateful to have been awarded the opportunity and trust to develop this exciting addition to the Academy and to have been given a blank canvas to create the best possible Academy experience for young players.

“It promises to be among the best Foundation phase programmes available for talented players, who we can promise a high level of coaching detail, a strong games programme and access to top facilities.

“As the club continues to grow, this is an extremely exciting time for players to join the Academy and be part of our ongoing progress.

“The vision is for them to advance all the way to the first-team in their time at the club and to take advantage of the genuine pathway to professional football which exists here.”

The Foundation phase teams will regularly participate in tournaments and come up against Academy sides from across the UK.

Trials for those who will be eligible for Under-9s, Under-10s and Under-11s teams in the 2022-23 season are to be held in the coming weeks.

The trials for all age groups will take place on Wednesday, June 1st between 4pm and 7pm at 1st Cloud Arena.

Anyone whose child is interested in attending one of the trial dates, or who would like further information, is asked to contact Nathan Kew via email at nathan.kew@southshieldsfc.co.uk.

South Shields’ Under-19s suffered an agonising exit from the National League Academy Cup as FC Halifax Town edged a penalty shootout after an entertaining but goalless semi-final tie at 1st Cloud Arena.

There were chances at both ends but the young Mariners arguably edged proceedings in the South Tyneside sunshine, only to be beaten 7-6 on spot-kicks.

A terrific crowd of more than 250 turned out to back Shields, who created an early chance when Joao Gomes dragged his shot just wide of the left post following a brilliant bit of goalkeeping distribution from Callum Dobson, who sent the ball the length of the pitch after saving a free-kick.

Dobson, continuing his fine form in the competition, stopped an almost certain goal on 18 minutes as he parried away a thunderous strike from Halifax’s Jake Hemingway. 

Back up the other end of the pitch, Dan Waldon also had a rocket of a volley saved from close range, denying Shields the goal that their pressure had deserved.

Bryan Taylor kept the home side level heading into the interval with a clearance off the line, but the end of the first half was a quieter affair as the deadlock remained to be broken.

The second half began with another impressive save from Dobson low to his left following a dangerous in-swinging cross from Frankie Sinfield.

The Mariners had chances of their own, too, one of which followed some fine work by Waldon as he beat his man and touched the ball across the face of goal, only to see it cleared just as James McGeorge was about to tap it home. Waldon was also just off target after turning in the box shortly afterwards.

With 74 minutes on the clock, Gomes produced a brilliant showing of hold-up play as he received the ball, held his man off, advanced into an attacking position and rifled a shot at goal which was saved by the Halifax goalkeeper Lewis Hayley.

Halifax number ten Lucas Schofield carried the ball almost the length of the whole of the Shields half on 80 minutes, but couldn’t quite find his finishing touch, dragging his effort wide of the right post. 

The young Mariners piled on the pressure in the closing stages, coming close on a number of occasions, but they couldn’t find the net and after 90 goalless minutes, the tie went straight to a penalty shootout.

Despite some brilliant Shields finishes and an excellent save by Dobson, it was not to be for the hosts as a clinical Halifax side secured a 7-6 win on spot-kicks and progress to the final.

South Shields: Dobson, Watson (Neary 65), Taylor, Thompson, Marriott, Walker (Cresdee 82), Rossiter (Kidd 49), Lukeman (Fletcher 82), Waldon, McGeorge, Gomes.

Image: Kev Wilson.

The club’s Academy Under-19 players face one of the biggest games of their young careers on Wednesday when they take on FC Halifax Town. 

A place in the final of the National League Academy Cup is at stake, with the young Mariners having enjoyed a tremendous run to the semi-final of the competition.

Shields are competing against teams from the leagues above them, having been given special dispensation to enter the cup because of their consistently strong performances over the last five years.

Wednesday’s tie will be held at 1st Cloud Arena and will be open for supporters to watch for free, with the match to kick-off at 2pm.

The ground will be open from 1pm, with the downstairs bar and clubhouse kiosk set to be in operation.

Lead 16-19s coach Andy Inness said: “For most of the group, this will be the biggest game they’ve played in terms of the occasion.

“It’s a national cup semi-final in an excellent competition against teams from leagues above the one we usually operate at.

“They’ve done brilliantly to make it this far and have proved they’re more than capable of playing at that level.

“Now it’s about delivering on Wednesday and dealing with the pressure of the occasion and the fact it’s at 1st Cloud Arena, which always adds a little bit more to it.

“The biggest message from me is that it’s just a game.

“They’ve got to play the game and not the occasion, and remember that it’s still 11 vs 11 regardless of who your opponent is.”

Shields bounced back to winning ways last Wednesday with a 4-0 win over Scarborough Athletic, with goals from Lewis Lukeman, Dan Waldon, Nathan Kidd and Alfie Marriott sealing the win.

That followed the young Mariners’ first defeat of the National League Under-19 Alliance season a week earlier, when they were beaten 3-0 by Frickley Athletic.

Inness added: “The result and performance against Frickley was a big shock to me, because that group had never performed like that in my time at the club.

“We had an honest conversation about it after the game and the reaction from the lads was first-class on the training pitch.

“On Wednesday they transferred that into a brilliant performance, because they were excellent against Scarborough and fully deserved their win.

“We’ve got to keep pushing and trying to make what they do feels enjoyable instead of pressurised.”