By Daniel Prince

South Shields return to Ebac Northern League Division Two action tomorrow (Saturday) with a trip to Alnwick Town.

The Mariners will be looking to record their first win since September 16 after a run of nine games without a victory in all competitions.

Just two points separate Shields, in 14th, and Alnwick, in 17th, in the table.

Jon King’s side have faced a daunting fixture list recently, though, and will be eager to get back to winning ways.

Three points could lift Shields back into the top half of the table, although they will be sure to avoid complacency against an Alnwick side which recorded some impressive results in September and October.

They beat Team Northumbria, Ryhope CW, Heaton Stannington and Birtley Town in that run, so are sure to provide a stern test for the Mariners at St James’ Park.

Shields will be without the injured David Molloy and Alex Kempster for the 3pm kick-off, while Jake Cunningham is among the others unavailable.

The Mariners should welcome back goalkeeper Steven Hubery, though, after he recovered from a toe injury.

By Daniel Prince

Jon King says he found South Shields’ 7-3 defeat to Easington Colliery in the Durham Challenge Cup on Tuesday hard to believe.

Shields had two men sent off and let a 3-1 lead slip as they exited the competition at Peterlee.

The defeat came despite a superb hat-trick from Paul Kane and a fantastic start, which saw the Mariners fly out of the blocks.

In the second half, Lee Maitland and Barrie Smith were sent off, and the final score left manager King feeling “shell-shocked”.

He said: “I think after Saturday’s game against Norton and Stockton Ancients, I used the word shell-shocked, and it’s the same again.

“We started the game as well as I can remember.

“Paul Kane and Stephen Ramsey were fantastic throughout, and didn’t deserve to be on the losing side. I really felt for those two in particular.

“We were dominant in the first 15 minutes on Saturday, but when we had a setback our heads dropped for 20 minutes. The same happened against Easington.

“We were so dominant in the first 15 to 20 minutes, and then they got a horrible goal from our point of view to pull it back to 2-1.

“Professional footballers in the Premier League, earning £100,000 a week, make mistakes, so we’re going to make mistakes.

“When we conceded that first goal, though, it was like we conceded five. The attitude and the body language just went down for 20 minutes.”

King says he sensed at half-time that the game was not over, despite the fact Shields led 3-1.

He added: “Another great finish by Paul Kane in first half stoppage time put us 3-1 up, and that perhaps gave us a bit of falseness at half-time.

“I sensed in the dressing room that a few of the lads thought it was game over.

“For as much talent as we’ve got in the dressing room, you’ve got to match that with desire.

“Things don’t always go OK. You’re going to have ups and downs in your life.

“Things happen, and you’ve got to be big and strong, and get over it, and we didn’t.

“We scored the third goal at a great time, but then we conceded two horrible, schoolboy goals at the start of the second half.

“Then the indiscipline kicked in, which is unacceptable, and cost us massively.

“You’re just thinking, ‘What on earth is going on?’

“Before the sending offs, we had gone 4-3 down, and those three goals absolutely killed us.

“I had said to the lads at half-time, ‘You can make this as easy or as hard as you want’, and they certainly made it hard for themselves.”

King accepts some will look at the scoreline, and the red cards, and question what is happening at the club.

However, he insists you “had to be there” to appreciate the circumstances around the defeat.

He said: “You had to be there. Whatever I say, people will look at it and think Shields got a battering. It wasn’t really the case overall.

“Everyone would have expected a cricket score in our favour after about 20 minutes, and it should have been.

“It doesn’t always go for you, and it was only one setback, one goal. You would think we had conceded five goals by the way we reacted.”

In the first half, Shields midfielder Alex Kempster was stretchered off with a knee injury, but King is at this stage unsure how long he will be out for.

He explained: “It’s disappointing for Alex, because the lad has done well and he’s a good player.

“Apparently his studs got stuck in the grass and his knee went the other way.

“It’s another blow. I’m not a medical expert, but I think he’ll be out for a while.”

By Daniel Prince

South Shields suffered a second half collapse as Easington Colliery claimed a thumping 7-3 victory in the Durham Challenge Cup on Tuesday.

It had all looked on course for Shields when they went in at half-time with a 3-1 lead at Peterlee thanks to Paul Kane’s fine hat-trick.

However, things started to unravel in the second half, and after Easington fought back to lead 4-3, the Mariners saw midfielders Lee Maitland and Barrie Smith dismissed.

After that, the away side became even more of a threat, and the final whistle was something of a relief for Shields.

The mood at full-time was a far cry from that after 20 minutes.

Shields had started in fine fettle, and Stephen Ramsey forced a decent save out of Kyle Donaldson early on.

Easington broke, and two blocks at the back from the Mariners ensured the scores remained level.

However, Shields were dominant, and got their noses in front in the eighth minute.

The in-form Kane – deployed up-front in the absence of David Molloy – struck a powerful effort from 25 yards into the bottom corner, with the help of a deflection.

Less than a minute later, Kane doubled his tally for the night with another fine finish.

After collecting the ball on the right, he beat his man, dribbled it into the penalty area and curled it left footed beyond the reach of Donaldson and into the other bottom corner.

Shields were rampant, and Chris Feasey almost made it three on 12 minutes when he connected with Alex Kempster’s cross, but his half-volley went just over.

Kane was in almost unplayable form, and went so close to completing a 15-minute hat-trick.

The striker chested the ball down 30 yards out before unleashing a stunning volley which beat the goalkeeper but crashed against the crossbar.

Four minutes later, Kane again hit the woodwork, with the Easington defence unable to live with him.

He was played in by Abu Salim and fired across goal, but saw his effort bounce out off the post. The rebound fell to Kempster, who could only screw wide.

There was only one side in it at that stage, but against the run of play, Easington got a foothold in the match 20 minutes in.

Shields gave the ball away at the back, and David Paul pounced to fire into the bottom corner.

A minute later, the dangerous Paul struck an effort over the bar as Easington sent their hosts some warning signs.

Brett Gillatt played Paul in again soon after, and this time he was denied by Simon Parkin in the Shields goal.

The game was more even at this stage, with Salim causing some problems for Easington on the right. A dangerous cross-shot from the winger was beaten away by Donaldson.

At the other end, though, Kyle Morris should have levelled the scores when a corner was flicked on to him in front of goal, but he could only loft the ball over.

Alex Kempster lies injured

Alex Kempster lies injured

Just after, there was a long break in play when Kempster was stretchered off with a knee injury and replaced by Adam Sharp.

When play resumed, Shields got on top again and Ramsey saw a shot saved by Donaldson.

Sharp also sliced wide after being found by Ramsey, while Barrie Smith spurned another decent opportunity when he was played in by Kane.

HAT-TRICK ... Paul Kane

HAT-TRICK … Paul Kane

Shields deserved to go in at half-time with a two-goal advantage, and Kane ensured they did just that two minutes into stoppage time.

He latched on to Sharp’s looped ball over the top, chested the ball down, outpaced the defence and slotted past the goalkeeper to notch his 14th goal of the season for Shields, and his second hat-trick.

In the second half, everything changed.

Gillatt reduced the deficit to one within three minutes of the restart as he powered a shot into the bottom corner, and less than a minute later, the tie was level.

A cross from the left was looped into the air by Bryan Norton, and his effort beat Parkin and eventually bounced into the corner of the net.

Out of nowhere, Easington were level, and suddenly they were the side with all the momentum.

However, Shields almost went ahead again on 54 minutes.

Ramsey was played in by Salim, but Donaldson got out to smother his effort.

The ball broke free to Kane, but his shot across the ground was cleared off the line by Christopher Pearson.

Easington broke down the pitch and scored themselves to move into the lead for the first time in the match.

James Page got free of the Shields defence on the right, and beat Parkin with a crisp effort.

Things had unravelled for Shields, who had conceded three goals in six minutes – a blow they would never recover from.

Maitland’s dismissal on 55 minutes made their task even harder, with the midfielder given his marching orders after an off the ball incident.

Shields remained determined to battle on, with Salim and Feasey both seeing shots blocked as they tried to rally.

On 64 minutes, a low cross from Kane just evaded Ramsey, with Donaldson able to scoop up the ball.

The sending off of Shields captain Smith a minute later all but ended the home side’s chances of progression in the competition.

Smith kicked out at Easington player Michael Watson and was shown a straight red card, and from then it was always going to be an uphill battle for the Mariners.

Parkin had to make a number of saves to keep the score down, before Shields produced a great chance to level the scores.

A free-kick was lofted over the top to Aron Burn, who found himself unmarked in front of goal, but he could only volley wide.

311 match actionWhen Paul struck on 76 minutes, the tie was effectively over.

His powerful, low effort from 25 yards went through a sea of bodies and got past Parkin.

Shields were still able to produce the odd opportunity, with Salim in particular continuing to threaten.

He burst his way through a number of challenges on the left, but was ultimately denied by Donaldson after working his way into the box.

With 12 minutes left, Easington were awarded a penalty when Chris Locke brought down an attacker in the area.

Paul stepped up to slot home and complete his hat-trick, and at that point the visitors sensed an opportunity to fill their boots.

There would be just one more goal for them, though, which was provided by Morris in the last minute of normal time as he slotted past Parkin after a cross from the right.

It brought an end to a desperately disappointing night for Shields, who had conceded six goals without reply in the second half and picked up two more damaging red cards.

They will hope to move on from the result quickly, and will have an opportunity to bounce back on Saturday when they travel to Alnwick Town in Ebac Northern League Division Two.

SOUTH SHIELDS: Parkin, Talbot, Feasey (Evans 87), Burn, Locke, Maitland, Kempster (Sharp 34), Smith (c), Ramsey (Graham 87), Kane, Salim. Sub not used: Stephenson.

Goals: Kane (8, 9, 45+2).

Booked: Locke, Talbot.

Red cards: Maitland (55), Smith (65).

EASINGTON COLLIERY: Donaldson, Smith, J Page, Pearson (c), Drysdale, Watson, Norton, L Page, Paul, Morris, Gillatt. Subs (from): Adams, Beeston, Martin, Pattison, Wintrip.

Goals: Paul (20, 76, pen 78), Gillatt (48), Norton (49), J Page (54), Morris (90).