Eddie Thomas feels Gateshead’s Durham Challenge Cup experience will only benefit the academy players in the squad following a second preliminary round win over Silksworth CW.
The 19-year-old caught the eye on Wednesday night, as three neat finishes helped The Heed into the first round of the Durham Challenge Cup via a 6-0 scoreline.
“I think it was a really good performance,” said Thomas.
“We scored quite a few and kept a clean sheet as well, which is always a bonus.
“Playing a senior team will have been a great experience for the few lads who’ve just played academy football.
“It was good to get a nice crowd in – it’s always better when you score and hear people cheering.
“I’m happy to get the hat-trick over the line as well. I missed a chance around the 80th minute, so there was no way I was letting anyone else take that penalty!
“We could’ve maybe got a few more, but you can’t complain with a 6-0 win at the end of the day.”
The striker has enjoyed a taste of the mens’ game already this season, as a spell with Dunston UTS in the Pitching In Northern Premier League East Division was followed up with a move to Northern League side Crook Town.
“I’m enjoying it to be honest,” Thomas added.
“It’s obviously harder as I’m up against older players and it’s much more physical.
“It’s good for my development and helping my reach my main aim which is to impress here at Gateshead.
“I’ve trained quite a bit with the first-team here and the intensity is very high.
“It helps me get to know the lads, and it also improves weaknesses of my game.”
Ben Clark’s side will host Spennymoor Town in the next round of the competition, and Thomas is already anticipating an interesting tie.
“I’m looking forward to it,” the frontman said.
“They’re rivals and the club played them in the FA Youth Cup this season – there should be a good crowd here for it.
“We’ll have another strong team out and hopefully we can get the victory.”