By Daniel Prince
Jon King feels Washington will go on to win promotion from Ebac Northern League Division Two after seeing them beat his South Shields side 3-1 on Saturday.
Two goals from James Fairley and another from Chris Winn condemned the Mariners to defeat, but King insisted it was no disgrace to lose to a team possessing such attacking quality.
The manager said: “I said before the game that Washington would be there or thereabouts at the top of the table this season.
“They have got a lot of First Division players, and it was always going to be a tough game, which it was.
“They were strong, physical and very direct. They played to their strengths, and got the ball to their front three quickly.
“Our players won’t come up against forwards like that every week, although we didn’t play as well as we can.
“Washington’s forwards are certainly First Division quality, and if they get promoted – which I think they will – I’m sure they will get more players in to become a First Division side.
“No team in this league will have forwards like them. The forwards were the difference.”
One positive for Shields was Stephen Ramsey’s goal, which briefly got them back into the game at 2-1.
Ramsey came on as a substitute at Washington after Adam Sharp’s strong performance in the League Cup at Penrith, and King admitted he felt his side were back in the game when the striker scored.
He added: “It was good for Stephen to get a goal.
“I left him out because of how well Adam Sharp did at Penrith, and because Stephen is suspended for the FA Vase game against Whitley Bay on Saturday.
“He got the goal and I thought we were back in the game at that point.
“We then gave away the third goal, though, which was disappointing.
“I thought we had a real chance at 2-1. They then got their third goal, which was a killer.
“We didn’t play anywhere near as well as we can in the game, but last season, I think it might have been five or six.
“Overall, it wasn’t great, but you have to remember who we were playing against.”
By Philip Reay
South Shields suffered a setback at the Nissan Sports Ground on Saturday as they lost 3-1 to one of the pre-season promotion favourites, Washington.
The Mariners started the game brightly, and inside the first minute Chris Feasey outpaced the Washington defence on the left flank, but his cross was plucked off the head of Adam Sharp by goalkeeper Neal Atkinson.
A flowing Washington move involving former Mariner Chris Winn and James Fairley ended with Aaron Croft firing the ball into the Shields goal, but his celebrations were cut short by the offside flag.
Washington started to put the Shields defence under pressure, with Fairley causing problems on the left flank.
On 10 minutes, he fired a cross into the box for Mark Davison, and he volleyed the ball towards goal, only to be denied by a block from Aron Burn.
A series of corners followed, but the Shields defence held firm as first Sharp and then James Talbot were on hand to clear the danger.
A minute later, a long ball out of defence found Davison in space, but the Washington striker was unable to trouble the Mariners keeper Steven Hubery as he volleyed over the bar from the edge of the box.
From the restart, David Molloy played the ball into the path of Barrie Smith wide on the left. Smith turned past his marker before cutting inside and firing a shot towards goal that was tipped over the bar by Atkinson.
Shields continued to pressurise the Washington defence as Smith and Feasey combined to release Molloy, but the striker fired wide from the edge of the box.
The visitors were then hit on the counter as Fairley fired the home side into the lead.
Shields responded well to the setback and thought they had levelled the scores as Sharp guided the ball wide of Atkinson in the Washington goal, but like Croft earlier, he was also denied by the assistant referee’s offside flag.
Within minutes, the Mariners again went close. Following the award of a free-kick on the angle of the box, skipper Smith curled the ball round the defensive wall, but it also flew inches wide of the upright.
As the half approached the 35 minute mark, Shields again pressed forward. Feasey outpaced his marker before floating a cross into the box for Paul Kane, who out-jumped the defence, but with the keeper beaten, the ball grazed the outside of the post.
In the closing stages of the first half, Feasey again found Kane in space, but the striker was denied by a Washington defender’s block. The ball fell to Molloy on the edge of the box and he fired the ball towards goal, only to see his shot deflected.
Once again, Shields were hit on the counter as Winn squeezed the ball past Hubery to double the home side’s advantage going into the half-time break.
In the opening minutes of the second half, Smith again caused problems for the Washington defence. Following a mazy run, he fired a shot at goal that Atkinson was only able to parry before Richard Paxton hacked the ball forward.
From the clearance, Washington pressed forward and were awarded a free-kick on the edge of Shields box. Joseph Kendrick fired the ball into the defensive wall, and it flew over the bar for a corner.
The resulting corner was sent into the box by Anthony Callaghan towards Stephen Halliday, and Shields keeper Hubery had to be at his best to punch the ball clear.
On the hour, Clayton Davis broke clear of the Shields defence, but with only Hubery standing between him and a third Washington goal, a superb save denied him.
Washington maintained the pressure on the Mariners defence, and once again the reflexes of Hubery saved Shields as he tipped a point blank shot from Davison round the post.
As the second half approached the midpoint, Feasey fired a cross into the box from wide on the left flank towards Stephen Ramsey, and the Shields striker sent a glancing header into the roof of the net.
The visitors then pressurised the Washington defence looking to restore parity, but they held firm and Shields were hit by a late sucker punch.
A long clearance caused problems for the Shields defence, and Fairley capitalised to fire in his second and Washington’s third goal to secure the points.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Hubery, Locke, Feasey (Kempster), Burn, White (Halliday 46), Graham (Ramsey 67), Talbot, Smith (c), Sharp, Molloy, Kane. Subs not used: Pickering, Conroy.
By Daniel Prince
Last week, we asked South Shields players, supporters and Twitter followers to send in their questions for midfielder David Conroy.
The 22-year-old, who rejoined the Mariners in the summer, and has so far made nine appearances over two spells at his hometown club.
We caught up with him after Wednesday’s League Cup loss at Penrith to put your questions to him, after Chris Locke took part in the feature a week earlier.
So, over to you…
Q: Which clubs did you play for before coming back to Shields? (From South Shields fan Bob Scott, via email)
A: I played for Boldon CA the season before last, and last season I was playing for Jarrow FC.
Q: Do you have any pre-match superstitions? (From SSFC)
A: I don’t have any real superstitions, but I do get changed right side first, so I put my right shin pad on, as well as my right sock and right boot, then my left side.
Q: Can you go through a full 90 minutes without using the outside of your right foot? (From @achilton1 on Twitter)
A: Since I don’t have a left foot, I have to use it!
Q: What’s it like to have loyal fans that come to support you? (From @Deanyannetta on Twitter)
A: The fans are brilliant travelling the distances they do to support the team.
Q: If you were to compare yourself to one Premier League player, who would it be and why? (From SSFC)
A: I would probably compare myself to Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere, as he’s the only one who has had as many ankle injuries as me.
Q: As a Shields lad, how do you feel playing for your hometown club? (From South Shields fan Bob Scott, via email)
A: I was at Shields a few years ago and it didn’t work out, so ever since then it has been my aim to play for them again. I’m really enjoying my football here now.
Q: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? (From SSFC)
A: I’ve never really been given any advice from anyone.
Q: Are you better than Wigan striker Martyn Waghorn? (From Christopher Morton – @Morton30 – on Twitter)
A: Am I better than Waghorn? So I’ve heard.
Q: If you were stuck on a desert island and had to choose one South Shields player to be with, who would it be and why? (From SSFC)
A: That would be Tally (James Talbot), because you can never shut him up.
Q: Who do you think has got the worst hairline, you or @Beavo69 [Paul Campbell] (From @CraigGray18 on Twitter)
A: Paul Campbell definitely! He’s like Gervinho!
Q: Which current Shields player do you think is most likely to go on and become a manager? (From SSFC)
A: Chris Locke will be a good manager, because he never stops talking and organising.
You can follow David on Twitter @DavidConroy4
The #AskAPlayer series will continue throughout the season, and the next edition is likely to be in October.