South Shields’ defence of the Durham Challenge Cup came to an end as Hartlepool United scored a late equaliser before beating them on penalties on Tuesday.
The Mariners were in control for much of the game at Victoria Park, and looked on course for victory thanks to a first half Michael Richardson goal.
However, Pools equalised against the run of play three minutes before the end and punished Shields for their missed chances by coming out on top in spot-kicks.
The Mariners had a number of half chances in the early stages, the best of which saw Richardson turn a cross from Aksel Juul over the bar.
They broke the deadlock in the 35th minute as Richardson received the ball just outside the box on the left before cutting inside and curling a tremendous shot into the top corner.
Graeme Armstrong could have doubled Shields’ lead, but he was denied at close range by Pools goalkeeper Ryan Catterick before being withdrawn with a hamstring injury.
Catterick did well to save from Richardson and Louis Storey before the break as the visitors tried to press home their advantage.
Hartlepool started the second half well, and could have levelled when Liam Travers was found 12 yards out, but he skied his effort.
Shields had numerous chances to kill the quarter-final tie off.
Debutant Jack Devlin was denied by a fine Catterick save, while Richardson could only shoot wide after being played in on the left.
At the other end, Dillon Morse kept Shields ahead with a goal-line clearance from Liam Pritchard.
Alex Nicholson, Juul and Richardson were all denied by Catterick in the closing stages as Shields’ efforts to score a crucial second goal were thwarted.
They were made to pay when Josh Hawkes received the ball with his back to goal in the 87th minute before turning and picking out the bottom corner.
Travers almost won it for Pools with a 40 yards chip just before the end, but the game went to penalties.
Morse and Pattison both saw their spot-kicks saved by Catterick as Shields crashed out 4-3 on penalties.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Woolston, Baxter, Nicholson, Shaw (c) (Lough 51), Morse, Storey, Richardson, Briggs, Armstrong (Devlin 38), Juul, Holmes (Pattison 59). Subs not used: Connell, Smith.
Goal: Richardson (35).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.