Match Report: Nantwich Town 0-0 South Shields
South Shields maintained their unbeaten start in the Pitching In Northern Premier League after a 0-0 draw at Nantwich Town on Saturday.
The Mariners failed to score for the first time in the league this season and registered their third draw so far in the stalemate at the Optimum Pay Stadium.
On an afternoon of frustration, Shields lost Will Jenkins to a serious-looking leg injury early on and also saw substitute Ntumba Massanka sent off late on.
Shields headed to Cheshire in challenging circumstances, with manager Graham Fenton forced to self-isolate at home after testing positive for COVID-19. Wing-backs Jordan Hunter and Blair Adams were among the players they were unable to select due to injury.
Jenkins replaced Will McGowan in the only change to the starting line-up from Tuesday’s 2-1 win over Lancaster City at 1st Cloud Arena and the opening exchanges offered encouragement, with the Mariners quickly establishing control of the ball.
The long delay following the injury sustained by Jenkins – X-rays later revealed the midfielder had not suffered a leg fracture – punctured that bright start, though, and both teams struggled to find their rhythm in the next period of the game.
Just after the half-hour, the match spluttered into life as Shields saw a strong penalty appeal waved away following a challenge on Callum Stead and Darius Osei bent a fierce effort narrowly over the bar from 20 yards.
At the other end, Alex Kempster blocked a strike from the dangerous Sean Cooke, who later saw a volley from just outside the area deflected wide.
Arguably the greatest chance of the half fell to Stead, who conjured an opportunity for himself with some tenacious play before seeing his low drive held by Nantwich goalkeeper Matthew Gould.
The Dabbers offered more of a threat going forward in the second half but the first sniff of goal fell to Shields, with a low strike by Osei pushed wide by Gould.
It was the start of a strong period from the Mariners, with Kempster seeing a low cross pushed away by Gould and Osei firing over after being picked out by a fine Kempster cross.
Nantwich almost took the lead when Daniel Cockerline just failed to connect with a low cross from the right with the goal gaping, and the hosts had further half-chances, but Prince Haywood and Cockerline were off target with their attempts.
Goalmouth action was rare at both ends as the second half progressed towards a conclusion but in Myles Boney, Shields had an in-form and alert goalkeeper who did well to keep out a long-range stinger from Cooke.
Massanka was given his marching orders in stoppage time following an off-the-ball incident and neither side was able to force an opening as they took away a point apiece.
Shields – now separated from new league leaders Matlock Town by goal difference – are back in action on Tuesday with a league trip to Bamber Bridge.
South Shields: Boney, Martin, Bodenham, Briggs, Morse, Ross (c), Jenkins (McGowan 14) (Lowe 70), Tee, Osei, Stead (Massanka 61), Kempster. Subs not used: Shaw, Hodgson.
Image: Kev Wilson.