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Gateshead v Oldham Athletic - Vanarama National League

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Match Preview: Friendly double-header at South Shields and Gateshead!

The Lads are back in action and we kick-off with a pre-season double-header with friendlies at South Shields and Gateshead.

Photo by Eddie Garvey/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Saturday 8th July 2023

South Shields v Sunderland


1st Cloud Arena

Kick-Off: 12:30

Saturday 8th July 2023

Gateshead v Sunderland


Gateshead International Stadium

Kick-Off: 16:00

Tickets & Match Coverage

Tickets: Tickets are sold out.

TV/Stream: Streaming will be provided free of charge by the club for both games (potential issues with bad connectivity at both grounds not withstanding).

Radio: Not available

The build-up...

It feels much longer than seven weeks and four days since our defeat at Kenilworth Road, but today we kick-off preparing for the 2023-24 season with a local double-header. At lunchtime we start off at the 1st Cloud Arena to take on newly promoted South Shields for a 12.30pm kick-off.

It has a distinct Sunderland flavour to the occasion as it is also Julio Arca’s first home game in charge of the Mariners after taking over from Kevin Phillips who left the club by mutual consent soon after promotion was confirmed.

Preparation for the club’s first season in the National League North got underway on Tuesday evening on the road at Newton Aycliffe, and they came away with a 2-0 victory. Tony Mowbray will require his best juggling skills as his squad will be split between the early start at Shields and the 4pm kick-off at Gateshead that follows.

The Heed, who are managed by former Newcastle United defender Mike Williamson, come off the back of a successful season that ended in consolidation in the National League following promotion the previous year as well as a trip to Wembley in the FA Trophy final.

Long term absentees from last season, Corry Evans, Ross Stewart and Elliot Embleton are unlikely to feature during pre-season according to Mowbray’s update in midweek and Aji Alese will also miss the majority of the close season schedule. We’re also likely to get our first glimpse of some of our new additions, although Jenson Seelt is suffering with an ankle injury so will not feature at all in today’s fixtures.

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The Boss
Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Played for all three...

Ben Clark

Clark came through the ranks at Sunderland to make his debut in a second round 2nd leg League Cup tie at Kenilworth Road. On the night it was a starting XI place alongside Paul Butler in the heart of the defence, where Butler ended up on the scoresheet in a 2-1 win to take the tie 5-1 on aggregate.

After struggling to nail down a regular place in the matchday squad, Clark began the 2004-05 season in the starting line-up on the opening day of the season at Peter Reid’s Coventry City. The game ended in a 2-0 defeat and would be the last league start for Clark before moving to Hartlepool United which would last six years before joining Gateshead in 2010.

Another six years with the Heed included Clark becoming co-caretaker manager alongside Micky Cummins in 2015 and in 2016-17 he played for both Gateshead and South Shields.

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Sunderland’s Ben Clark and Coventry City’s Patrick Suffo
Photo by Mike Egerton/EMPICS via Getty Images


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