South Shields twice came from behind to beat Hartlepool United 4-2 in an entertaining pre-season encounter on Sunday.
It was an impressive victory for the Mariners which they will hope to use as a springboard heading into the new campaign.
Things did not start too well for Scott Curtis’ side, though, with goalkeeper Scarlett Gowans called into action early on as she produced a great save.
Hartlepool did take the lead shortly afterwards as a powerful shot towards goal was too hot to handle, and the striker pounced and put the effort away.
Shields nearly found an equaliser soon afterwards as Jade Dryden played a ball across the box, but Gabby Pedersen’s effort at the far post was just wide.
Eve Gatens then had a chance to level the scores as Dryden played another great pass, but the effort was stopped on the line.
The Mariners did find an equaliser as Megan Archbold lifted a ball into the box, Isla Maggs headed it over the goalkeeper and Pedersen tapped into an empty net.
Pedersen nearly put Shields in front soon after as she connected with a loose ball at the far post and saw it come back off the woodwork.
A hectic few seconds followed as Alex Miller’s header looked to be heading in until the goalkeeper made a great save. Hartlepool countered, but Gowans made an excellent save to keep the scores level.
Gowans made another fantastic save as she parried a shot wide while at the other end, Shields nearly took the lead as Gatens found space on the wing and played the ball inside to Maggs, but the goalkeeper made a brilliant save.
It was end-to-end-stuff and only seconds later, Hartlepool went in front. A mazy run into the box took a few Shields players out of the game, before the ball was squared for a tap-in.
Archbold nearly levelled the game from distance for the Mariners, but the goalkeeper did well to parry over the bar.
Only a few moments after that, Archbold did score in the most bizarre fashion. A searching ball over the top took a wicked bounce which deceived the goalkeeper and bounced into the net.
Shields took the lead late in the game as Maggs challenged the goalkeeper to a loose ball, won it and tapped into an empty net.
Gatens put the result beyond doubt with seconds to go. A lifted ball over the top of the Hartlepool defence saw Gatens released one-on-one, and she slotted under the goalkeeper.
After the game, head coach Curtis said: “I’m pleased that we came back as it showed the character of the squad to go the full 90.
“It was disappointing to start slowly again, but I was very pleased at the strong finish.”
A youthful South Shields side were narrowly defeated 2-1 by Boldon CA in the Sam Bartram Cup on Friday.
Shields fielded a number of Academy players, and the game could prove to be a vital experience for them after a closely-contested affair.
The young side did take the lead early on as Ollie Cresdee found a yard of space on the edge of the area and rifled an effort into the bottom corner, giving the goalkeeper no chance.
Only moments afterwards, though, Boldon CA were on level terms. A misplaced pass by Joe Aldus allowed the home side to break, and Oscar Taylor – playing against his parent club – did well to finish.
Shields pressed for a second as they looked to bounce back. Sam Hodgson placed an effort out of the reach of the goalkeeper, but the ball was hacked off the line just in time.
Hodgson came close again only moments afterwards. A brilliant run by Cresdee opened up space for him, but the striker’s shot went narrowly wide.
Despite the Mariners’ pressure, Boldon came close to going in front when Taylor caused problems again, but this time his effort cannoned back off the post.
On the stroke of half-time, the hosts took the lead. Levi Collins placed a free-kick from a dangerous position into the bottom corner, just out of the reach of Aaron Steavens.
Chances were few and far between in the second half, but Shields had a great opportunity to equalise. James McGeorge found space inside the area but the goalkeeper made a fantastic save to keep his side in front.
The Mariners then pressed for a leveller, and Sam Porthouse nearly found it. After taking a great first touch, his effort was narrowly hit over the bar.
Boldon CA should have put the game out of sight with minutes to spare as the ball was fired across the Shields six-yard box, but the follow-up effort somehow went wide.
South Shields: Steavens, Morris, Lockey, Fletcher, Aldus, Agnew, Walker, Rossiter, Hodgson, Cresdee, Waldon. Subs: Dobson, Marriott, Taylor, Smith, McGeorge, Hills, Porthouse, Sharp, Lukeman, Armstrong.
Goal: Cresdee (8).
South Shields continued their 100% pre-season as they toppled West Allotment Celtic 3-0 on Wednesday.
Goals from Sam Hodgson, a trialist and Will McGowan saw Shields run out comfortable victors.
The Mariners almost found the opener early in the game as captain Robert Briggs played a wonderful ball through to a trialist, but his effort was hacked off the line.
West Allotment then had a chance to break the deadlock, but Shields’ other trialist, a goalkeeper, made an excellent save to deny Larmouth from distance.
Sam Hodgson opened the scoring for the visitors. An excellent pass by McGowan found the striker, who chipped the West Allotment goalkeeper.
Shortly after, a trialist doubled Shields’ lead. Jon Shaw played a great pass from deep and the trialist kept his composure to fire home.
The Mariners put the game to bed with the pick of the goals. McGowan twisted and turned on the edge of the box before firing a powerful effort past Hodgson and into the top corner.
Shields continued to dominate the game with some confident passing moves, and nullifying the West Allotment attack.
Alfie Marriott had a great chance to make it four to Shields, but his effort from close range unfortunately sailed over the bar.
South Shields: Trialist, Hunter, Hopper, Shaw, Agnew, Briggs (c), Lukeman, McGowan, Hodgson, Trialist, McGeorge. Subs: Boney, Neary, Aldus, Marriott, Watson, Fletcher, Cresdee, Walker, Waldon.
Goals: Hodgson (17), Trialist (29), McGowan (33).