Match report: South Shields 1-1 FC United of Manchester
South Shields were pegged back by FC United of Manchester as a 1-1 draw ended their 100% start to the Pitching In Northern Premier League season.
Conor Tee handed the Mariners an early lead as he tapped in at the back post, and they carried that advantage into half-time after an impressive first half display.
FC United were much-improved after the break though and their pressure told 13 minutes from the end when Cedric Main stabbed home from just inside the area.
The match was played at a frenetic pace in front of a throbbing crowd of 2,362, and it was Shields who came roaring out of the blocks the quickest.
They were inches away from opening the scoring within three minutes as Blair Adams teared down the left and delivered a cross which was flicked on by Ntumba Massanka to Alex Kempster, who was just unable to stretch enough to turn it into an empty net at the back post.
The Reds responded immediately with an attack of their own. Main burst through the centre and played in Fin Sinclair-Smith, but his effort flew into the side netting and appeared to be covered by Myles Boney.
The visitors continued to possess a threat, particularly on the counter-attack, but the bulk of the first half opportunities were created by the Mariners.
Captain Robert Briggs sent a half-volley wide from the edge of the box and Jordan Hunter continually wreaked havoc on the right flank, which was a pre-cursor to the Shields opener which arrived on the quarter-hour mark.
Hunter brilliantly beat his man to advance into a position of real promise on the right of the area before sliding an inviting low ball across the area which Tee met at the back post as he tapped in his first goal in Shields colours.
There was an opportunity for an immediate response for the visitors as Main forced a block from Dillon Morse, but the Mariners should have doubled their advantage in the 24th minute.
Nathan Lowe’s corner from the right was nodded across goal by Callum Ross to Jack Bodenham, who could only volley over from close range.
Shields were buoyed by the fervent home support and continued to attack their visitors, but a number of fine margins went against them, with Bodenham denied by a headed block and Kempster again narrowly failing to slide a ball home at the back post.
FC United created their best chance of the half 11 minutes before the break when Jonathan Smith’s cross found Jamie Cooke, but Boney was alert to stop the low header and keep his side in front.
There was an even better save at the other end soon after as Briggs almost added a second for the Mariners. Massanka deftly played a ball through to his captain and his flicked strike with the outside of his right foot was brilliantly tipped wide by the outstretched hand of Lavercombe.
Shields started the second half on the front foot and created a chance within 20 seconds of the restart as Massanka headed wide from a Tee cross.
That was not a sign of things to come, though, as FC United impressively increased the pressure in their search for an equaliser as the match progressed.
Boney was in excellent form for the Mariners as he dealt with a number of crosses and set-pieces, and his most eye-catching moment came as he tipped a header from point-blank range by Smith onto the bar before the rebound was sent wide.
The goalkeeper also brilliantly pushed an Adam Dodd free-kick away from danger before a set-piece from the same player was superbly cleared by Bodenham as the Reds attempted to turn the screw.
They scored the equaliser they had been threatening 13 minutes from the end as Main pounced on a loose ball and took it around Boney before converting into an empty net.
Shields responded well to that blow, with substitute Darius Osei testing Lavercombe from long range and Lowe curling over from the edge of the box.
But it was the visitors who went close to notching the third goal of the game as Jordan Simpson found himself in space on the left of the box. Boney made himself big and kept out Simpson’s effort from close range with a stunning save.
There was a stop at the other end by Lavercombe from Kempster as the game continued to ebb and flow, with Osei also threatening what could have been a winner as he attacked down the left before slicing a shot wide.
Boney had more work to do, and was forced to make another tremendous save as the game ticked towards stoppage time, tipping a powerful Drew Baker header onto the bar.
Lowe almost had the vital say against his former club in the 91st minute, but his sweet strike from the edge of the box went narrowly past the post.
A victory ultimately proved to be beyond both sides, and Shields will look to return to winning ways wh
South Shields: Boney, Hunter, Adams, Ross, Morse, Bodenham, Kempster, Briggs (c) (Jenkins 63), Massanka, Lowe, Tee (Osei 65). Subs not used: McGowan, Rossiter, Hodgson.
Goal: Tee (15).
Image: Kev Wilson.