Ten-man South Shields fell to a 3-1 defeat at Birtley Town after conceding three goals in 16 second half minutes.
The game started quietly, with both teams battling to assert themselves in bitterly cold conditions.
Two long range efforts from Luke Richardson for the Mariners went high and wide, but it was the home side that had the best chance of the half.
Shields gave it away at the back two minutes before the break, and the ball was played into the feet of the unmarked Meechak Kanda, who somehow ballooned his effort over from in front of goal.
Birtley got the breakthrough eight minutes after half-time, though.
The Mariners had a corner of their own, but the hosts broke away and Daniel Taggart fired in off the post to leave Shields goalkeeper Jak Wells with no chance.
Just three minutes later it was two, as Birtley benefited from a piece of extremely good fortune.
A weak shot from Callum Hope appeared to be heading straight into the arms of Wells, who was already on the ground having made his dive.
However, the ball then hit a divot and bounced over the keeper to double Birtley’s lead.
Wells made a number of saves to keep it at 2-0 before the home side won a penalty for handball, which Taggart converted.
Shields did threaten a comeback when they scored on 73 minutes, with Ben Riding stabbing home after a ball in from the right.
However, any hope they had was snatched away when striker Stephen Ramsey was shown a second yellow card before the restart for dissent.
The Mariners continued to battle for the remainder of the game, but ultimately had too much to do, and the defeat leaves them 13th in the Northern League Division Two table.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Wells, Locke, Riding, Brown, White, Clarke, Henderson, Richardson, Ramsey (c), Foster (Bulman 57), Feasey.
Goals: Riding (73).
Red cards: Ramsey (73).
By Bob Wray
The Mariners make the short journey on Saturday, December 28th to play Birtley Town in an Ebac Northern League Division Two fixture for a 3pm kick-off, with hopefully no weather disruption.
Following the unfortunate power cable mishap which prevented last Saturday’s Whitehaven game taking place, hopefully this fixture will not be subject to a weather postponement and the match will proceed as arranged.
As ever, three valuable and important points are at stake, as Shields endeavour to finish the year on a winning note towards an initial safety target of 40 points.
Hopefully as near as possible a full strength squad will be available for management selection, and an entertaining and competitive game for supporters’ pleasure and enjoyment will lie in wait.
It has been good to see Stephen Ramsey back on the goal trail with a fine hat-trick in his last appearance, and it is to be hoped this form leading the attack will continue, and for his striker colleagues also to contribute to the tally.
Defensively, it is to be hoped they will be tight, noting the opposition’s goals for their home record to date, with both focus and concentration to avoid slips and errors.
At the half way point of the season, there are lessons to be learned from the progress to date.
There are more than sufficient grounds and reasons for ‘what ifs’ and ‘might have beens’ conjecture, but all in claret and blue must give the remainder of the campaign their best to hopefully finish on as high a league table placing as may be possible given all present circumstances.
Hopefully for supporters, this will be a good game to finish the year and on a winning note, and for all concerned there also most hopefully be a very much anticipated positive indication coming soon from ‘the powers that be’ for good news concerning the club’s future ground back home in South Shields.
On that note, the club most sincerely thanks supporters, sponsors and well wishers for all their support and encouragement in what are difficult circumstances, and hopes very much for us all that 2014 will indeed mark the beginning of a bright new future in a new ground for the Mariners to call home.
Birtley Town. HOME.
P13. W8. D2. L3. F33. A17. Total GD12. Pts. 40. League table 9th.
Form. Last six games 13 points.
South Shields. AWAY.
P11. W3. D6. L2. F19. A19. Total GD -3. Pts. 32. League table 13th.
Form. Last six games seven points.
Next games: January 4th, Tuesday, home to Ryton and Crawcrook Albion. League fixture.
January 7th, Tuesday, home to West Auckland, Durham Challenge Cup, Round Two.
Ground Directions. Birtley Sports Centre, Durham Road, Birtley, DH3 2TB, Tel. 07958 540 389.
Leave the A1(M) at the Angel of the North and follow the signs to Birtley. Continue along the main road through the town. Go past the Komatsu factory on the right and then after approximately 200 yards turn right into an unmarked side road. The ground is directly in front of you. Distance nine miles.
South Shields Football Club is delighted to confirm the winners of this year’s Christmas Draw.
The first prize was a fantastic holiday for seven days for two people in Kalamaki on the beautiful island of Zante, Greece.
The winner of the holiday, which will be next May, is Jean Carr from Hillarys in Washington, with number 360.
Second prize was a spirit hamper, and number 994 was pulled out of the hat to win. The winner was Barry Holey, from Chirton Avenue, South Shields.
Third prize – a wine hamper – was won by number 1097, which was held by Neville Reed, from Fenwick Way, Consett.
South Shields FC extends its best wishes to all competition winners, and thanks all those who entered.