NEWPORT’S Albion Rovers may be more used to playing fellow Gwent County League Division One rivals Cwmffrwdoer Sports and Abertillery Excelsiors, but this weekend they entertain Premier League big boys Stoke City.

The Reds, who play at Kimberley Park, take on the famous Potters, managed by Newport boy Tony Pulis on Saturday (kick-off 3pm) in one of the biggest games in Albion’s 73-year history.

Stoke have another friendly against Newcastle Town on Saturday and are likely to use their stars of the future by fielding academy players in the match with Rovers.

It was through Pulis’ Newport connection that the club, runners-up in Division One, first got in touch with Stoke, who ended up 11th in the Premier League.

They were looking for a fixture with a top class side to celebrate the official opening of their plush new clubhouse, which takes place on Friday night.

“Our chairman Terry Wilkins knows Tony’s brother Ray and asked him if he could contact him to see if Stoke would come down and play us to celebrate the opening of the clubhouse,” explained Albion’s football and fixture secretary Jim Meredith.

“People had been talking about getting in touch with Manchester United or Liverpool.

“But because Tony is from Newport, we’d thought we’d ask him. We were delighted when the answer was ‘yes!’ “Stoke are likely to play mainly their academy players so we’re unlikely to see Rory Delap and those huge throw-ins!

“But this is the biggest team we’ve played and we’re hoping for a big crowd on Saturday.”

The club find out later in the week if Pulis is making the return trip to his home town on the weekend.

Albion, who boast former Wales international Nathan Blake among their famous old boys, are aiming to return to the Welsh Football League where they last played in 2005.

l Tickets for Saturday’s match with Stoke City cost £1, with a programme included.

Gates open at 12pm with a mini youth tournament taking place before the main game, which is at 3pm. There will be activities for children, food stalls and the clubhouse is open.