Bridlington up first for Bay in cup

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WITH preparations for the new season now well under way, Whitley Bay will stage an attractive friendly this Saturday when Scottish League division two side Airdrie United are the visitors to Hillheads.

The game has a scheduled 3pm kick-off.

Meanwhile the draw for the early rounds of the FA Cup was made earlier this week.

And the Seahorses open the competition with a trip to east Yorkshire to face Bridlington Town in the extra preliminary round.

The game will be played on Saturday, August 11, and sees Whitley up against the side they defeated 5-1 on home territory in the FA Vase third round last season.

The sides also met in the FA Cup in 2004 when after a draw on the Yorkshire coast, Bay won the replay on Tyneside.

The reward for the winners of this tie will be a home game in the next round against a fellow Northern League outfit, in either Bedlington Terriers or Morpeth Town on the August bank holiday weekend.

In the newly sponsored Ebac Northern League, Whitley open their season away to Billingham Town on Saturday, August 18, with their first home game against Ashington three days later on Tuesday, August 21.

Bay manager Ian Chandler has been busy over the summer with a number of additions to his squad as well as some departures.

And the manager has said further signings can be expected before the season proper starts with the FA Cup game against Bridlington.

So far Chandler has brought in defender Ian Watson and winger/striker Denver Morris, while those departing for pastures new include Gary Ormston, David Pounder and Darren Timmons, who have moved to Newcastle Benfield, and Gareth Williams, who has joined Ashington.

Another player to depart is striker Robbie Dale, who has rejoined Blyth Spartans.

A fans’ favourite at Croft Park, Dale spent the one season at Hillheads with the Seahorses.

The new look squad will be put through its paces in a series of the pre-season friendlies in the coming weeks.

After Saturday’s visit of Airdrie, there is an trip to Whitley’s Northern League second division neighbours North Shields on Wednesday, July 18, where the kick-off is at the earlier than normal time of 7pm.

Then on Saturday, July 21, Bay visit another second division side in Seaham Red Star.

The following Saturday – July 28 – there will be a rematch with Glossop North End, away, the side Whitley beat in the 2009 FA Vase final at Wembley.

Two years ago the Derbyshire side travelled to Hillheads for a pre-season friendly and they have now invited Whitley to their Surrey Street home on the edge of the Peak District for a return fixture.

Further games follow at home to Ryhope CW and Oadby Town before the season kicks-off with the FA Cup opener.