Match Report: South Shields 0-1 Buxton
Ash Chambers struck the only goal 13 minutes from the end as Buxton won 1-0 at 1st Cloud Arena in a tight affair.
The game was on a knife-edge with South Shields building momentum in attacking areas before they suffered a body blow at the other end as Chambers produced a cool finish.
The Mariners had earlier hit the post and seen several efforts narrowly miss the target in a battle between two of the Pitching In Northern Premier League’s top three.
They went into the clash without midfield duo Robert Briggs and Callum Ross, with Will McGowan and Ntumba Massanka both introduced to the starting line-up.
Shields started brightly and after seeing a lot of the ball in the Buxton final third, they had their first attempt at goal as a well-struck Nathan Lowe free-kick drifted narrowly past the post.
The hosts went even closer to opening the scoring on eight minutes after some tremendous play on the left by Alex Kempster, who beat his man and fired in a tremendous cross which Darius Osei headed inches wide.
Buxton’s first sight of goal arrived soon afterwards. A corner from the left was headed on by Josh Granite to Warren Clarke and he attempted to nod goalwards on the turn, but sent the ball over.
McGowan and Conor Tee produced several classy passages of play in the opening 20 minutes and one of those led to a drive through the centre and low left-footed shot from 20 yards by Tee which Richardson held.
It developed into a tight first half and both sides had opportunities on the break in the closing stages of it.
The best of them fell the way of Buxton substitute Chambers, who volleyed over with the net gaping after Jamie Ward fizzed a ball across the area.
Shields had a similarly frustrating moment at the other end as they attacked at pace and Osei rolled the ball across the face of goal, but Kempster was just unable to get on the end of it.
Buxton drew a first serious save from Myles Boney in stoppage time when they progressed into a two-on-one situation and the pass from Ward sent Chambers wider than he would have liked, but the forward did get a firm strike away which Boney did well to kick to safety.
Shields were presented with a golden chance to break the deadlock five minutes into the second half. Richardson made a mess of a clearance and threw the ball to the feet of Ntumba Massanka, who took it around the goalkeeper and hit the post.
The Mariners’ brisk start to the half continued as Dan Martin came inside from the right and found Conor Tee, whose strike from the edge of the box was deflected over.
Martin and Tee were linking up well on the right and threatened again just beyond the hour mark with some impressive build-up play before Tee’s dangerous cross was pushed away by Richardson.
Buxton countered and had a sight of goal themselves, but Blair Adams was on hand to block from Matt Curley. Minutes later, Jon Shaw also produced an important interception to deny Ward.
Shields built some momentum after that as they attempted to exert some more pressure on the visitors’ goal. Lowe had a free-kick from distance saved, Granite fired the ball inches past his own goal after a cross from Kempster and Osei had a 12-yard effort deflected wide.
They were hit by a sucker punch at the other end, though, as Chambers pounced on a loose ball and calmly lifted it in to hand the Bucks the lead.
The Mariners’ first serious threat of an equaliser came with a 20 yard volley from Lowe in the 86th minute which struck a defender. Shields’ appeals for handball were to no avail.
A better opportunity came from the resulting corner as Shaw rose highest and headed the ball to Kempster, who hit the post from close range.
That proved to be the closest Shields came to a leveller on a frustrating afternoon.
Graham Fenton’s side now face a break from league action, and take on Sunderland’s Under-23s in the Durham Challenge Cup at 1st Cloud Arena on Wednesday.
South Shields: Boney, Martin, Adams (c), Shaw, Morse (Bodenham 90+5), Lowe, Tee (Rossiter 72), McGowan, Massanka (Main 57), Osei, Kempster. Subs: Steavens, Hodgson.
Image: Kev Wilson.