Tadcaster Albion and South Shields could not be separated as they played out a pre-season goalless draw at a sun-drenched i2i Stadium on Saturday.
Both sides had good spells in what was a hard-fought friendly, but ultimately could not find a way through.
Shields are now left with one pre-season friendly to play before they kick-off their Evo-Stik Premier Division campaign with a home game against Witton Albion on Saturday, August 18.
As they did twice last season in the Evo-Stik North Division, Taddy provided a stern test for the Mariners in the North Yorkshire sunshine.
Billy Whitehouse and Lamin Colley were among those who caught the eye as they kept Shields’ back-line under pressure.
Whitehouse had the first real opportunity of the game in the ninth minute when he received the ball on the inside-right of the box before firing an effort which was deflected onto the roof of the net.
The Mariners gained control as the half progressed, and sent a warning to their hosts when Darren Lough’s low ball from the left was lifted not far over by Matty Pattison.
Shields went close again soon after when Blair Adams beat his man on the left before coming inside and shooting over.
Lee Picton and Graham Fenton’s side’s best spell of the match came midway through the first half.
They almost opened the scoring when a teasing free-kick from the left by Josh Gillies clipped the head of a defender before bouncing just wide.
The resulting corner from Pattison was headed against the bar by Dillon Morse as Shields continued to put Tadcaster under pressure.
Goalkeeper Michael Ingham came to the hosts’ rescue on the half-hour mark when he tipped a header by Adams wide after a pinpoint cross from Gillies.
Colley volleyed a decent chance wide for Tadcaster in what was a rare first half chance for the hosts, and Gillies went close at the other end when his sweet volley from a Lough cross went not far wide.
The second half saw Taddy improve, and Casey Stewart had their first effort as he cut inside from the left before forcing a decent save from Shields’ trialist goalkeeper.
Morse had another opportunity at the other end as he headed narrowly past the post from an Adams corner, but Tadcaster remained a threat, as they proved when Whitehouse fired another effort which Shields’ trialist did well to save.
Whitehouse went even closer soon after when he came in from the left and struck the foot of the post with a powerful shot.
Opportunities were harder to come by in the second half for the Mariners, although substitute Lee Mason did force a save out of Ingham when he met an Adams cross with his head.
Things started to open up in the final five minutes, with Tadcaster left wondering how they did not score when Mitch Langton fired a low ball across the area which Colley was just unable to turn home.
At the other end, Lough hit an effort low and wide from the edge of the box and a further chance came and went when Adams got in behind on the left before hitting the ball across the face of goal, with Cogdon just unable to get a decisive touch.
Shields complete their pre-season programme with a trip to Cleethorpes Town next Saturday.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Trialist, Baxter (Hunter 61), Lough, Shaw (c), Morse, Turnbull (Ross 79), Gillies (Briggs 46), Wright (Cogdon 61), Finnigan, Pattison (Mason 46), Adams.
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.
South Shields continue their preparations for the new season with a friendly at Tadcaster Albion on Saturday.
The two clubs struck up a great friendship while competing together in the Evo-Stik North Division last season.
The Mariners picked up four points from the two fixtures with Tadcaster, and are expecting another keenly-contested encounter on Saturday.
Shields have been bolstered over recent days by the return from holiday of striker Gavin Cogdon, who made his first appearance of pre-season on Wednesday.
He marked it with a first half hat-trick in a 5-1 win at Boldon CA before being withdrawn at half-time.
The firepower the experienced frontman provides is vital for the Mariners, according to joint manager Graham Fenton.
He said: “It was good to Gavin him back from three weeks’ holiday on Wednesday and he scored a hat-trick in 30 minutes!
“It’s great to have Titch back.
“He’s a fantastic footballer and great to have in our squad.
“Titch always looks after himself fantastically well so we knew he wouldn’t come back and be sluggish in his first game.
“We thought 35 minutes was enough to get him off and running and we’re looking forward to seeing him again at Tadcaster.”
Shields and Tadcaster were divisional rivals last season, with Albion just missing out on the play-offs in the Evo-Stik North Division, a league the Mariners won.
Fenton is expecting a tough test – and a relevant one as Shields fine-tune their squad ahead of the season ahead in the Evo-Stik Premier Division.
He added: “It will be a tough game for us.
“Tadcaster were very good towards the end of last season and did really well.
“I think they’ll be a really tough test for us tomorrow.
“We’ll probably trim our squad down a little bit.
“We’ve been dealing with 19 to 21 players in squads and we’ll knock that number down to get more minutes into the first-team squad.”
Shields will be without goalkeeper Liam Connell, who will miss the final two friendlies because of holiday commitments.
Kick-off at the i2i Stadium – which has a post code of LS24 9AY – is at 3pm.
Admission prices are £6 for adults, £4 for concessions and £1 for those aged between five and 17.
South Shields will take on Consett and Tadcaster Albion as part of their preparations for the 2018-19 Evo-Stik Premier Division season.
Friendlies against Blyth Spartans and Cleethorpes Town, as well as the club’s participation in the South Shields FC International Tournament with Celtic, Marseille and Southampton’s Under-23 sides, were announced earlier this month.
The club can now confirm that its pre-season schedule will begin with a home fixture against Northern League outfit Consett on Friday, July 13.
The clubs struck up a friendship over many years of competition in the Northern League, and last met in April 2017, when Shields won 1-0 at Mariners Park on their way to winning the league title.
A trip to Tadcaster Albion, who the Mariners came up against in the 2017-18 Evo-Stik North Division campaign, has also been added to the pre-season programme.
Shields will visit the i2i Stadium on Saturday, August 4 in what is due to be their penultimate friendly of the summer.
An additional pre-season game is expected to be announced soon, and it is due to take place on Tuesday, July 24 at Mariners Park.
Here is the club’s pre-season schedule so far:
Friday, July 13: Consett (H)
Saturday, July 21: Blyth Spartans (H)
Tuesday, July 24: TBC (H)
Saturday, July 28: Southampton Under-23s (H) – South Shields FC International Tournament (PURCHASE TICKETS BY CLICKING HERE)
Sunday, July 29: Celtic Under-23s or Marseille Under-23s (H) – South Shields FC International Tournament (PURCHASE TICKETS BY CLICKING HERE)
Saturday, August 4: Tadcaster Albion (A)
Saturday, August 11: Cleethorpes Town (A)