Ards manager Colin Nixon believes Thursday’s Spectator and Chronicle Cup clash will provide the perfect preparation for the new season.
Premiership club Ards will play their local rivals Bangor at the Bangor Fuels Arena, with kick-off at 7.30pm.
It’s the first clash between the two sides in two years.
Nixon said: “The North Down derby has a great tradition and it’s important that we keep those traditions alive.
“It’s a bit more interesting than your average pre-season friendly so the players are really looking forward to it.”
Over the course of the summer, Nixon has signed goalkeeper Jason Mooney from Cliftonville, left-back Craig McClean from Crusaders, central midfielder Kym Nelson from Glentoran, winger Eamon McAllister from Carrick Rangers, forward Sean Noble from Ballinamallard Utd and striker Mark Kelly from Ballyclare Comrades. Defender Mark Kerr joins on a six-month loan from the Crues.
Nixon said: “The new guys have all fitted in really well. I’m expecting big things from them, that’s why I brought them to the club in the first place.
“The derby game is a good test for the new boys, as Bangor are a good side who were very unfortunate not to be promoted last season.”
Bangor manager Hugh Sinclair’s is hopeful the game will be good preparation for the new season, with the Seasiders determined to win the Ballymena & Provincial League and regain their place in NIFL.
However, Bangor will have a fight on their hands. West Belfast club St. James’ Swifts have signed former Irish League players Stephen O’Neill, Brendan Glackin, Aaron Smyth and Mark Clarke.
Sinclair said: “We knew St. James’ Swifts would sign a few good players. I see they’ve just signed Stevie O’Neill who played for Ards and Bangor, which is a quality signing.
“But you have to think about Glebe Rangers too. Last season, we threw everything at them and they still won the league. They deserve a lot of respect for that.
“It’s a difficult league with a few sides who are at least Premier Intermediate League standard.
“However, I don’t feel like we anything to fear. Come the first day of the season, we will be well prepared.”
Thursday’s game will kick-off at 7.30pm. Entry is priced at £5 for adults and £3 for concessions.