By Daniel Prince
Stephen Ramsey scored a late double as South Shields came from 2-0 down to earn a share of the spoils at Hebburn Town on Monday.
The South Tyneside derby looked to be heading the way of the home side after goals from Channon North and Callum Smith gave them a 2-0 half-time lead.
However, Shields fought back strongly late in the game, with Ramsey scoring twice in the final 16 minutes as Jon King’s side claimed a point.
The striker’s second came two minutes into stoppage time as the Mariners’ never-say-die attitude was rewarded.
They had started the game well, without creating clear-cut opportunities.
David Molloy sent the first effort of the game wide from distance, while Chris Feasey did well at the other end to block a powerful free-kick by Shaun Reay.
Shields goalkeeper Aidan Grant – who was making his debut – had a solid match, and did well on 12 minutes to come out of his box and clear the danger.
The Mariners were looking bright, and had got their passing game going before Hebburn took the lead against the run of play on 19 minutes.
Smith’s cross from the right found North in space in the box, and he looped a superb header into the far corner to continue his fine run of form.
Shields had kept him relatively well marshalled before the goal, with Aron Burn in good form at the back, but North was clinical with the one chance he got in the first half as he notched his seventh goal of the season in all competitions.
Hebburn grew in confidence after the first goal, and started to take control of the game.
Grant did well to palm away a dangerous low cross from Calvin McMahon, while Daniel Smith hit a shot wide.
Callum Smith’s effort was saved by Grant on 34 minutes, while a clearance from the Shields keeper soon after went straight to Reay, who lofted his shot over the bar from 30 yards.
On 42 minutes, Hebburn’s increasing pressure told when Smith doubled their lead.
Steven Graham – who was playing after completing a move from Jarrow Roofing a day before the game – sent a pass along the edge of his own penalty area.
However, it went straight to Smith, who clinically rifled the ball into the bottom-right corner.
Smith also saw a shot blocked a minute later, while Shields saw a goal ruled out on the stroke of half-time when Ramsey was adjudged to have fouled the goalkeeper.
Ramsey’s ball to Chris Locke was mis-controlled by the defender on the edge of his area, but McMahon could only fire over.
Feasey sent a free-kick over the bar soon after, but Callum Smith could have made it 3-0 on 53 minutes, and hit it over.
North had a good chance to put the game to bed nine minutes later after Reay’s cross from the right, but he could only get a glancing header from in front of goal, and it went wide.
Shields started to improve, though, and on 64 minutes they burst into life.
Grant launched a 60-yard throw to turn defence into attack, Ramsey held it up and found Barrie Smith on the right. His cross was over-hit, but Shields seemed to grow from that point on.
Ramsey dragged a shot wide and James Talbot’s low cross was well claimed by the goalkeeper before the Mariners got a lifeline.
Substitute Kyle Houshby drilled a corner from the right, and Ramsey made a great run at the near post before heading beyond the defender on the line and into the corner.
They had to remain alert at the other end, with Aron Burn blocking an effort from North before sliding in later to prevent a cross reaching the striker.
Molloy almost got in on goal on 80 minutes after Smith’s through ball, but Hebburn goalkeeper Gary Rogers did brilliantly to rush out of his box and clear the danger.
A Houshby ball from deep also sent Molloy though on goal, but this time the referee blew for a foul after ruling the Shields forward’s foot was too high.
North saw a goal disallowed for Hebburn with two minutes left after Grant spilled Reay’s shot, with the striker offside after the initial save.
North should have sealed the three points for the home side soon after, but he could only slice his shot wide from in front of goal.
Shields were pushing for the equaliser, and Grant came up for a Colin White long throw in the early stages of stoppage time.
However, Adam Sharp’s header went straight into the hands of Rogers, who launched a counter attack.
The eventual shot from halfway was too weak, though, and the Mariners went on to be rewarded for their tireless efforts.
After two minutes of stoppage time, Houshby broke clear on the right before sending a cross into the centre.
James Talbot’s header across goal struck the post, but the ball bounced out into the path of Ramsey, who smashed it home to earn a point.
It was Hebburn’s first dropped points of the season, while Shields avoided a third loss in a row.
The Mariners are in action again on Saturday when they host Thornaby at Peterlee. Kick-off is at 3pm.
HEBBURN TOWN: Rogers, Toward, Wallace, Costello (Pegram 60), Summers, Downey, C Smith (Bickerstaff 70), Daniel Smith, Reay, North, McMahon. Subs not used: David Smith, Holgate, Watson.
Goals: North (19), C Smith (42).
SOUTH SHIELDS: Grant, Stephenson (Sharp 64), Feasey, Locke, Burn, Graham (White 72), Talbot, Smith, Ramsey, Molloy, Pickering (Houshby 70). Subs not used: Wilson, Salim.
Goals: Ramsey (74, 90+2).
Booked: Smith, White.