Premier League referee Michael Oliver to take charge of Newcastle friendly

Referee Michael Oliver.
Referee Michael Oliver.

Ashington FC bring the curtain down on their pre-season programme with two matches in four days at Woodhorn Lane against Bedlington Terriers and a Newcastle United XI.

The Colliers and Terriers were keen to retain links despite the latter being relegated to the second division of the Ebac Northern League at the end of last season.

That clash will go ahead on Friday, July 29, with a 7.30pm kick-off.

Meanwhile fresh from his involvement at Euro 2016, Ashington-born Premier League referee Michael Oliver returns home to take charge of the game against a Newcastle XI on Monday, August 1.

The official was in the middle when Peter Beardsley brought the Magpies’ under-21 squad to Woodhorn Lane in November last year to mark the official opening of the new AkzoNobel stand. Monday’s kick-off is 7.30pm.

Ashington manager Steve Harmison said: “We lost heavily against Newcastle last year but we know we won’t play against as good a team as them throughout the whole season.

“They are going to provide strong opposition but I’m hoping that that will inspire my players.”

Meanwhile as the countdown begins to the start of the season on Saturday week with a home clash in the extra preliminary round of the FA Cup against Nelson (August 6), Harmison has brought in four new signings – defenders Craig Scott, Wayne Buchanan, Shaun Henderson and midfielder Lee McAndrew.

“Things have gone OK but we have got to be careful with Craig Scott as he hasn’t played for a year,” he said.

“We have to make sure that people don’t get caught up in the fanfare of him coming back.

“He has done every session but we are trying to ease him back gently.

“The other newcomers have fitted in really well and I’m happy.

“Shaun Henderson and Lee McAndrew have joined us from a successful Morpeth Town side who were in a winning environment, whilst Wayne Buchanan is a vastly experienced player. He has been with Ashington before and needs no introduction.

“The lads are getting fitter and stronger and we have also been to Ben Harmison’s new gym to work on various aspects including power and strength - and the lads are looking in good shape.”