Mariners in seventh heaven after goal-laden friendly
Hat-trick hero Eve Gatens inspired a second half comeback by South Shields Ladies as they defeated Wallsend 7-4 in a pulsating friendly on Sunday.
The Mariners showed tremendous character to recover from 4-1 down at half-time to storm to victory.
Wallsend were a real threat, particularly in the first half, and were denied an opening goal by a fine Erin Williams-Brown save after breaking the offside trap.
Lois Greenslade then burst through on goal to give Shields their first clear-cut chance, but her effort narrowly went wide.
The away side took the lead only moments later as an in-swinging corner deceived the goalkeeper and Sophie White was there to head into an empty net.
Against the run of play, Wallsend found an equaliser before almost going in front as the woodwork was struck.
They were now the team in the ascendancy and their pressure paid off as the ball was played through and Williams-Brown was beaten by an impressive dink.
Shields nearly found an immediate response as Annece Legg played a great cross to the back post and Jade Dryden’s volley hit the base of the post and out.
Williams-Brown then made a brilliant save from a corner as the ball was headed towards the bottom corner and she shifted her weight to somehow keep it out.
The Mariners hit the post again as Greenslade played a trialist through on goal, but the effort hit the outside of the post.
Despite Shields’ pressure, Wallsend found a third as their winger showed a burst of pace and slotted the ball into the bottom corner.
Williams-Brown made another great save as the ball was diverted towards her own goal and she reacted well to push it wide.
Only seconds afterwards, Wallsend found a fourth as a cross hit an unfortunate Shields defender before nestling in the goal.
The Mariners nearly found a way back into the game early in the second half as Greenslade found herself free, but she guided her effort wide.
They did gain a foothold soon after though as Greenslade – who had been dangerous all afternoon – broke free and slotted home.
Legg nearly found another for Shields but the Wallsend goalkeeper matched her effort and made a brilliant save.
Shields mounted on the pressure and pulled back to within a goal of their hosts as Greenslade found lots of space on the wing and played the ball across for Gatens, who tapped into an empty net.
The equaliser arrived moments later as a looping cross by Legg caused unrest in the Wallsend penalty area and a trialist turned the ball home.
Greenslade had another great chance as she found space yet again, but the goalkeeper was on hand to deny her.
That was to prove a temporary reprieve for the hosts as Gatens soon put Shields in front. Dryden drove forwards and found Greenslade, who played a defence splitting-ball through to Gatens and she lifted an effort over the goalkeeper.
The Mariners didn’t let up there as Legg pounded on a mistake by the Wallsend goalkeeper. She was caught off her line and the ball looped into the back of the net.
Gatens then put the game to bed and completed her hat-trick as she broke the Wallsend offside trap and burst into the box, turned the defender and slotted past the goalkeeper.
Hat-trick hero Gatens said afterwards: “It shows the character of this group to come back and win this game. We are delighted with the performance.
“I’m delighted to have scored a hat-trick. It gives me confidence in my abilities and now we want to build on this against Wear United next week.”