South Shields were knocked off top spot in the Evo-Stik Premier Division as they fell to a 3-0 defeat at Warrington Town on Saturday.
Warrington replaced the Mariners at the summit as they inflicted a third league defeat of the season on their opponents, who were missing the likes of Gavin Cogdon, David Foley, Carl Finnigan and Josh Gillies through injury.
Shields lined up with a 3-5-2 formation and started well, but were unable to create a clear-cut opportunity.
They fell behind eight minutes before half-time and conceded twice more towards the end as Warrington claimed the three points.
It was a match of few real chances, although Shields goalkeeper Liam Connell was called into action in the first minute when he comfortably saved from Jack Mackreth.
The Mariners would have been the team more satisfied with their start as they kept the ball well, but they failed to test Anthony McMillan in the Warrington goal.
Their best opportunity to do so came in the 19th minute when Dan Wright was fouled 25 yards from goal, but Robert Briggs lifted the resulting free-kick over the bar.
Warrington were unbeaten in 10 games heading into the match and had the league’s best defensive record, having conceded just three times in eight games.
They went close to taking the lead in the 21st minute when Connell was forced out of his area to head a ball clear but it fell to Bohan Dixon, who skewed his effort wide from long range.
Shields breathed another sigh of relief just before the half-hour mark when Robert Evans whistled a shot not far over from 20 yards for the hosts.
The Mariners’ best chance of the first half came when a Briggs corner from the right was headed out as far as Gary Brown, who dragged an effort from the edge of the box which took a deflection before going wide.
Warrington broke the deadlock eight minutes before half-time when Dixon was played in on the inside-right channel and he showed good strength before hammering the ball into the bottom corner.
Shields introduced Dan Lowther at half-time and tried to put their hosts under pressure, to no avail.
Chances were hard to come by at both ends, although Dillon Morse saved the Mariners when he headed the ball behind under pressure in the 66th minute.
Shields threatened an equaliser after some enterprising play on the left involving Blair Adams and he was presented with an opportunity to shoot in the penalty area, but he skewed an effort wide with his wrong foot.
Warrington notched the killer second goal 10 minutes before the end when Shields gave the ball away in a dangerous area and substitute Jake Kirby rifled it past Connell from outside the box.
Another substitute, Josh Amis, went close to making it three almost immediately after, but his piledriver from a tight angle just cleared the bar.
Amis did prove to have the final say, though, as the ball fell to him in the box in the fourth minute of stoppage time and he prodded it home.
It capped a disappointing afternoon for the Mariners, who will hope to bounce back on Tuesday when they travel to Buxton.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Brown (Lough 76), Shaw (c), Morse, Turnbull, Wright (Harmison 63), Mouanda (Lowther 46), Mason, Briggs, Adams. Subs not used: Lister, Hunter.
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.
A beer and gin festival is to be held at Mariners Park following the game against Grantham Town on Saturday, October 6.
The event is to take place in the marquee and ALL are welcome to attend for free after the match.
More details will be announced in the coming days, but there will be EIGHT guest beers, including Beavertown Neck Oil, Clwb Tropicana, Big Wave Golden Ale, Keller Pils, Paulaner, Bavo and Lervig.
There will also be a wide choice of gins, while entertainment will be provided by popular singer JPAGE.
Entry is free and everyone – whether they have attended the match or not – is welcome.
Make sure you don’t miss it!
Two South Shields Academy teams were in action on Wednesday as the young Mariners continued their bright start to the competitive season.
The club’s Under-19s kicked-off their National League Under-19 Alliance campaign with a 0-0 draw against Eccleshill United at Mariners Park.
At the same time, another Shields Academy team got the better of Tyne Met College in the ECFA Category One Premier League, winning 3-2 at Silksworth Sports Centre.
Lee Picton and Wess Brown managed the Shields side at Mariners Park, and it turned into a frustrating afternoon for the young Mariners.
They enjoyed good possession and created a host of good opportunities, but were unable to convert them.
Michael Colquhoun was the first to go close as he got on the end of a through ball from Callum Guy, but goalkeeper Jordan Moorhouse denied him.
Another fine chance came and went when Will McCamley got in behind on the right of the area and pulled the ball across to Colquhoun, but his flick from close range struck the post.
The Mariners had a number of other decent opportunities, the best of which saw McCamley head an effort against the bar after a cross from Bailey Judson.
Judson was denied by a last-ditch tackle soon after, but the home side had a scare just before half-time when Alex Preston’s shot for Eccleshill just cleared the crossbar.
Eccleshill had their best chance in the 65th minute when striker Zak Sangster was played in on goal, but his low effort came back off the post as Shields breathed a sigh of relief.
Colquhoun was frustrated again soon after when Moorhouse produced a fine save to deny him, while substitute Sam Hodgson went close towards the end after brilliantly beating his defender before firing narrowly wide.
The other Shields side, meanwhile, was led by Graham Fenton and Jamie Williams at Silksworth.
They were left with mixed emotions after a 3-2 victory which saw Tyne Met College threaten a late comeback, but the overriding one was happiness as the Mariners made it two wins from two in the ECFA Category One Premier League.
Shields were excellent in the early stages as they put into practice much of what they had been working on in training.
They pressed well and made themselves difficult to play through when not in possession, and were rewarded with a 3-0 lead.
Will Jenkins opened the scoring before Stephen Black made it 2-0 with a superb goal from midfield.
The third goal was scored in the second half by Brad Allen, but playing against a strong wind in the second half, Shields let their opponents back into it.
Tyne Met netted twice near the end but ultimately, it was the Mariners who claimed the three points.
SSFC Academy team to play Eccleshill United at Mariners Park: Cameron Armstrong, Ethan Biwer, Joe Lockey, Callum Carney, Jordan Patterson, Tom Bexton, Will McCamley, Lewis Orrell, Michael Colquhoun, Callum Guy, Bailey Judson. Subs: Emeraude Yembe, David Allasan, Sam Hodgson.
SSFC Academy team to play Tyne Met College at Silksworth Sports Centre: Jacob Bramley, Will Morris, Josh Croft, Stephen Black, Adam Onarbay, Ben Errington, Dom Minchella, Josh Elcoate, Joe Ames, Will Jenkins, Brad Allen. Subs: Ethan Hodgson, Lewis Black, Luke Ridley, Jake Dunn.
Goals: Will Jenkins, Stephen Black, Brad Allen.