Match report: Crook Town 1-2 South Shields
Sam Hodgson scored twice as he captained a youthful South Shields side to a 2-1 pre-season win at Crook Town on Wednesday.
Hodgson’s brace put the Mariners two goals up before Crook, who are preparing for life in Northern League Division One after securing promotion last season, mounted a spirited fightback and halved the deficit.
The Mariners’ backline held firm though as they belied their tender years on a night which should prove a valuable learning experience.
Shields settled the quicker of the two teams and were unfortunate not to take the lead after just six minutes as Blair Rossiter curled a cross into a superb area, but Charlie McLeod was just unable to get clean contact on it in front of goal.
They did not have to wait too much longer to open the scoring, though, and the breakthrough arrived after some energetic pressing from summer signing Will McGowan. He won the ball in an advanced position and laid it off to Hodgson, who produced a clinical finish.
The rhythm of the game was disrupted after a lengthy delay caused by an injury to Shields’ Alfie Weallens, who was eventually stretchered off with a knee complaint. He is expected to undergo a scan to assess the severity of the injury.
Weallens was replaced by 16-year-old Academy team-mate Albe Fletcher, who caught the eye on the biggest occasion of his young career with an excellent display.
Hodgson was arguably the Shields player possessing the most experience, and he was a constant thorn in Crook’s side. He could have doubled his tally midway through the first half after some good work from Rossiter, but this time his effort cleared the crossbar.
Crook should have equalised six minutes before half-time after a mix-up at the back from the Mariners presented the hosts with an open goal, but they were unable to convert the golden opportunity and Shields capitalised on that early in the second half.
Goalkeeper Aaron Steavens picked out Joe Lockey on the left flank and he set substitute Oscar Taylor away down the left flank. His cross was intended for Jamie Whitehead but when he was unable to get clean contact on it, the ball broke to Hodgson and he made no mistake.
Crook pulled a goal back soon after, with Jamie Tumilty converting at the back post after an impressive cross from the right.
They threatened more regularly in the remainder of the game without seriously testing Steavens, with Shields able to mainly restrict their opponents to efforts from distance.
There could have been a third goal to wrap things up for the Mariners three minutes before the end when Fletcher progressed well through the centre and played it to fellow substitute Ben Campbell, but his drive from the right of the area went over.
Shields are back in action on Saturday when they face Blyth Spartans in the CEFO CFS Challenge Trophy at Croft Park.
South Shields: Steavens, Morris, Lockey, McGowan (Campbell 62), Stout (Aldus 46), Neary (Stout 68), Rossiter (Witheat 62), Weallens (Fletcher 16), Hodgson (c) (McLeod 77), Whitehead (Hills 62), McLeod (Taylor 36).
Goals: Hodgson (9, 48).
Image: Kev Wilson.