WHITBY Town tackle the FA Vase holders for a record three seasons, Whitley Bay, on Saturday (23 July) at the Turnbull Ground.
The Northern League First Division side have not faced the Blues since Town were promoted from the then-Unibond League First Division in 1998.
Since then, the Tyneside club has racked up four Vase triumphs - Town notably lifted the trophy in 1997 after defeating North Ferriby United 3-0 on the way to promotion and a league and cup double.
Ian Chandler’s men narrowly missed out on promotion back to what is now the Evo-Stik First Division North - one division below Whitby - after finishing behind second-placed Consett on goal difference after a last day draw.
Bay lost assistant manager Steve Cuggy, who replaced Mick Tait as Blyth Spartans boss earlier this summer and took with him coach Gavin Fell, plus players David Coulson, Tom Kindley and Lee Mason.
Blues manager Tommy Cassidy should have striker Ash Davis back from holiday, though goalkeeper David Campbell’s ankle injury is worse than first thought and the veteran could be sidelined for another fortnight.
Cassidy is under no illusions about the quality of the opposition.
“I’m a big lover of the Northern League, I see a lot of players and go to a lot games,” he said.
“The standard is very good indeed and some players could easily play in the Conference.
“There’s a wee bit of rivalry I think and it’ll be a very hard game for us.
“We haven’t conceded any goals in the last few games and hopefully that’ll continue.
“But I’m not looking for results, I’m looking at individual players to see how they react.”
The game kicks off at 3pm.
Town also welcome NPower League One Hartlepool United on Monday (25 July) evening with a 7pm kick-off at the Turnbull Ground.
Last weekend, Cassidy signed Callum Martin, Billy Blackford and Mark Ellison. all midfielders from Pools.
A fourth former Hartlepool player, defender Tom Marron, has featured in both Whitby’s pre-season outings so far - the right-back made 44 appearances for Evo-Stik One North Garforth Town last term.