Esh Winning 1-2 South Shields
By Philip Reay
South Shields earned all three points following a stoppage time winner at Esh Winning on Saturday.
It was a game that only went to the full 90 minutes as the referee played on with the agreement of both managers and team captains following a floodlight failure on 65 minutes.
Shields won the game 2-1, with striker Adam Burnicle grabbing the last-gasp winner after Esh Winning had themselves scored an equaliser late on.
The hosts started the game on the front foot and won a corner inside the first minute that was fired into the box by Matt Smith, but Stephen Ramsey was on hand to head the ball clear.
Shields responded instantly as Chris Feasey turned past his marker on the left flank before firing a cross into the box, but Esh keeper Tom Orton reacted quickest to pluck the ball off the head of Ramsey.
Shields maintained the pressure on the Esh Winning defence as Feasey again raced down the left flank, but once again Orton reacted first to collect the ball ahead of Ramsey.
On 10 minutes Shields were awarded a free kick on the right following a foul on Richard Logan; Logan himself took the free kick, but Grant Boyd headed behind for a Mariners corner.
Feasey fired the corner into the box and following a scramble in the goalmouth, Orton clawed the ball off the line and the danger cleared.
The Shields pressure bore dividends on 12 minutes. Ben Riding fired a cross into the Esh box and it was met by Luke Richardson at the back post, and he fired the ball into the back of the net.
From the restart, Esh pushed forward and Smith sent a cross into the box, but Wayne Clarke headed the ball clear.
On the quarter hour Ramsey and Logan combined on the right to release Burnicle, who then turned past his marker only to fire a shot from the angle of the box that was well saved at the post by Orton.
Playing with the advantage of the slope, Shields continued to press forward and went close to doubling the advantage on 20 minutes; a long throw by Riding was headed towards goal, but with the keeper beaten, Luke Thompson was on hand to clear the ball off the line.
On the half hour, Burnicle and Tony Burnell combined on the right flank and Burnell fired a cross into the box, but Ramsey saw his header well saved by Orton.
Within a minute, Shields again went close. Feasey outpaced his marker on the left flank before firing a cross come shot towards goal that was headed off the line by Grant Boyd.
The resulting corner was fired into the box by Burnicle and again Richardson beat the defence to the ball, but his header was cleared off the line by James Bamborough.
As the first half entered the final 10 minutes the hosts began to gain a foothold in the game, winning a series of corners all taken by Graham Embleton, but the Shields defence held firm to maintain their slender advantage.
In the last action of the half, Riding played the ball to Burnell on the edge of the box and he fired a shot at goal that was well saved by Orton.
The hosts started the second half on the front foot, winning a corner in the opening minutes that was fired into the box, but Riding was on hand to clear the ball.
Shields quickly regained their composure and on 50 minutes Ramsey collected the ball in the centre of the park and instantly slipped the ball past two defenders to find Logan, but his shot from the edge of the box hit the post before being cleared by Bamborough.
Neither side was able to create any clear opportunities as the game became entrenched in the midfield.
On 65 minutes, one of the floodlights went out, leaving the corner of the pitch in semi darkness.
The referee consulted with his assistants, both managers and team captains, and following a two minute delay restarted the game with the agreement of both sides.
Shields manager Jon King then made three changes to his side as Colin White replaced Logan , Luke Olabode replaced Clarke and Cameron Foster replaced Ramsey.
The hosts began to exert some pressure on the Shields defence, but their only reward was a corner that was comfortably dealt with by the Mariners, and a long range shot by Shaun Smith that was well saved by Andy Hunter in the Shields goal.
With nine minutes remaining, Esh restored parity as the Shields defensive frailties again came to the fore.
A corner on the left was sent into the box and the ball eventually fell to Smith, and he fired in from close range.
The goal spurred Shields into action as they launched an assault on the Esh goal.
A Feasey corner was headed wide by White, and a minute later Feasey collected a ball from Burnell, but fired his shot into the side netting.
As the game entered added time, Barrie Smith won the ball in the centre of the park and he played the ball through the defence for Burnicle on the left, and the striker made no mistake from 15 yards to give Shields all three points.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Andy Hunter, Chris Locke, Ben Riding, Wayne Clarke (Luke Olabode 71), Luke Richardson, Barrie Smith, Adam Burnicle, Richard Logan (Colin White 67), Stephen Ramsey (Cameron Foster 75), Tony Burnell, Chris Feasey.
Goals: Richardson (12), Burnicle (90).
Shields are next in action at home to West Allotment Celtic on Tuesday 10 December at Eden Lane in Peterlee.