King: Shields deserved draw
By Daniel Prince
Manager Jon King felt South Shields were unlucky on Saturday as they got their Ebac Northern League Division Two season started with a 2-1 loss at Willington.
Two goals from Liam Whitworth gave the home side an opening day victory, but King thought Shields deserved a point for their efforts after a close-fought game.
The Mariners felt they should have been awarded a free-kick in the build-up to Whitworth’s first goal, but King bemoaned his team’s response to not being given the foul.
He did, though, believe Shields should have come away with at least a draw.
King said: “I think it was two evenly-matched sides.
“I said to the lads at half-time that it was a bit of a poor goal to concede.
“We thought there was a foul on Lee Maitland in the build-up, but you play to the whistle.
“A few lads in the centre of the park switched off waiting for the foul to be given.
“It was a great strike, but if we hadn’t have switched off, I think somebody would have blocked the shot.
“It’s just disappointing not to come away with what I thought would have been a deserved draw.”
King also had some words of consolation for goalkeeper Brett Wilson, who produced a wonderful save just before Barrie Smith brought Shields level from the penalty spot on the stroke of half-time.
Willington’s winner came after Wilson failed to save Whitworth’s header into the ground, with the ball bouncing over him and into the net.
King added: “Brett kept us in the game at 1-0 with a great save, but towards the end he made a couple of mistakes.
“Their left winger – the number 11 – was probably their best player, and we told Chris Locke at half-time to get a bit tighter to him.
“He did that, but he just switched off at the end.
“The lad was always going to win the header, because he’s bigger, and he’s a strong, powerful lad, but Chris had to be more of a presence, so that if he won the header, it wasn’t a free one.
“That was the first mistake, and then obviously Brett went down too early.
“I don’t want to criticise my goalkeeper, because he kept us in the game. That is where the game was lost, though – two mistakes.”
King was determined to take positives out of the defeat, and had words of praise for a number of his players.
He said: “There were some excellent performances.
“I thought Chris Feasey was excellent at left full-back, as well as Aron Burn against two tough little centre forwards.
“In midfield, I thought Barrie Smith was excellent again, my captain. You know what you’re going to get from him.
“I thought we struggled in wide areas with Kyle Houshby and Andy Renton, though, and I didn’t think Chris Locke had the best of games.
“We didn’t deserve to lose, but you don’t get what you deserve in football all the time.
“If you’re going to make mistakes like that, you’re going to be punished, and we were.
“I think it was the first time the 11 had played together as a side.
“We will certainly get better, but that’s what will stick in my throat, especially the second goal.”
King’s Mariners side are next in action on Tuesday, when they travel to Ryhope CW in the league. Kick-off is at 7.30pm.