South Shields’ six-game unbeaten run came to an end with a 2-0 defeat by league leaders Heaton Stannington.
Shields started the game on the front foot and on the 5 minute mark Chris Locke attacked down the right flank before playing the ball into the path of Chris Feasey; Feasey cut in towards goal but his cross/shot floated wide of the post.
The game became entrenched in the middle of the park as neither side was able to find a way of unlocking the opposition defence.
As the game approached the 20 mark Shields thought they had taken the lead; a long throw by Colin White was turned into the net by Barrie Smith but the celebrations were cut short as the referee spotted an infringement.
Shields began to enjoy a period of pressure, Barrie Smith and Adam Burnicle combined to release Chris Feasey; Feasey raced towards goal but a last ditch challenge by Telford on the edge of the box cleared the danger.
On the half hour Heaton Stannington were awarded a free kick 25 yards but Johnson fired the ball over the bar.
A minute later Heaton went close again, Deagle fired the ball into the box where Leach rose above the Shields defence to head the ball towards goal only to be denied by a clearance from Barrie Smith.
Heaton maintained the pressure on the Shields defence and again it was Deagle providing the ammunition as he floated a cross into the box but Dodsworth headed wide from close range.
Shields themselves went close as a Colin White long throw was headed towards his own goal by Wear but a finger tip save by Backhouse spared his captain’s blushes.
Shields continued to press forward and a corner by Chris Feasey on 35 mins was headed towards goal by Adam Sharp but a goal line clearance by Deagle kept the scores level.
In added time at the end of the first half Barrie Smith collected the ball on the edge of the box but his shot flew over the bar and the sides went into the break tied at 0-0.
The visitors started the second half the quicker of the sides and within 4 mins of the restart they went a goal up; following a goal mouth scramble Paul Blakey fired in from close range.
From the restart Shields pressed forward, Chris Feasey fired a free kick into the box and Colin White headed wide from close range.
On the hour Luke Olabode and Adam Burnicle combined on the left flank and Olabode raced away from the Heaton defence before crossing for Adam Sharp but his shot flew wide of the post.
On 65 mins a South Shields appeal for a penalty was waved away by the referee.
Shields were enjoying a period of pressure and on 75 mins Adam Burnicle collected the ball on the right flank before cutting in towards goal but his shot was well saved by Backhouse in the Heaton goal.
With Shields pressing forward looking to restore parity they were hit by a sucker punch 2 minutes into added time as Lee Johnson fired in from close range.
The Mariners are unbeaten in six games and have won five of those, which has helped them recover from a tough start.
Shields progressed in the FA Vase in midweek with an impressive 3-1 triumph at Billingham Town, who are a tier above the Mariners in Northern League Division One, but King wants his team to tighten up at the back.
They have yet to record a clean sheet this season, so although clear improvements have been made in recent weeks, there are still areas for them to work on.
King was delighted to get the win in Tuesday night’s replay following Saturday’s 4-4 draw in the original game, but has set his side a target of not conceding in future fixtures.
“I was over the moon with the win on Tuesday,” he told the Gazette. “To beat a team from a higher league was very pleasing.
“The side is becoming more settled and we’ve now had six results on the trot, which is very good.
“It takes time for everyone to gel, and there is a lot more to come.
“We are still conceding goals, which is disappointing.
“We are scoring plenty of goals and are unbeaten away from home, which are real positives for us, but the challenge I have now set is to keep a clean sheet.”
Shields have been given a boost ahead of their game with Heaton, as the league leaders lost free-scoring striker Jonathan Wright to West Auckland Town this week.
Wright had been instrumental in their march to the top of the table, and King is hopeful his absence can give his side the edge.
He said: “They are a very good side but he was their biggest strength.
“Teams have all got a weapon and they have just lost a massive goalscorer.
“There must be more to them than that as they are top of the league, but they have scored 25 goals this season and he has got 18 of them.
“Of course they will have other strengths but he was a massive threat and they are devastated to have lost him.
“There is confidence in our camp that we can win the game, but I’m not going to say we’re definitely going to win as it doesn’t work like that.”
Stephen Ramsey remains a doubt for the Mariners with the dead leg which has kept him out in recent weeks, while Tony Coe will miss at least a portion of the game due to work commitments.
The match, at South Shields’ adopted home of Eden Lane in Peterlee, kicks off at 3pm tomorrow.
Shields return to league duty on Saturday, September 28th, following their fine FA Vase Second Qualifying Round replay win away to Billingham Town on Tuesday evening, with an attractive home feature against current table leaders Heaton Stannington, kick off at 3.00pm.
The team has gone six consecutive games without defeat, and the tally shows five wins and a draw, which is pleasing.
The opposition’s form speaks for itself and a good contest is in prospect, with Shields starting to gell and play some decent football, so hopefully all will go well for the Mariners.
HEATON STANNINGTON, AWAY.
P7. W4. D1. L2. F14. A12. Total GD 8. Pts. 25. League Placing 1st.
FORM. From the last 6 games 9 points, table position 11th.
SOUTH SHIELDS, HOME.
P4. W1. D1. L2. F7. A11. Total GD -2. Pts. 11. League Placing 15th.
Form. From the last 6 games, 10 points, table position 9th.