Match Report: South Shields 2-0 Radcliffe
South Shields made it two wins from two in 2022 as they saw off in-form Radcliffe 2-0 at 1st Cloud Arena on Saturday.
An early Nathan Lowe penalty gave the Mariners the lead and JJ Hooper secured the victory with a fine finish late on to move the Mariners up to third in the Pitching In Northern Premier League.
They had set the tone from the first whistle, and had their first sight of goal after just two minutes. Cedric Main evaded two challenges before whipping a low shot narrowly past the post from 20 yards.
The Mariners were strong in the tackle and showing plenty of intent going forward, and their reward came when Conor Tee was tripped inside the box on the right. Lowe took responsibility and thumped the penalty past debutant Jack McIntyre in the Radcliffe goal to hand the hosts a sixth minute lead.
McIntyre joined Radcliffe on the eve of the game on loan from Sunderland and he was called into action when Will Jenkins shifted the ball onto his left foot and fired an effort which the goalkeeper got down to save.
There was another opportunity just after the quarter-hour as Tee’s free-kick struck the wall and Shields kept the ball alive before Tee was found in space inside the box, but his goalbound strike was blocked.
From the resulting Lowe corner, Dillon Morse’s powerful shot was held by McIntyre as the Mariners’ superb start continued.
Against the run of play, though, Radcliffe almost equalised when an impressive move concluded as Bobby Grant played in Callum Gribbin and he looked certain to score, but his clipped effort was excellently cleared off the line by Jack Bodenham.
Having preserved his side’s advantage at one end, Bodenham almost extended it at the other as he got his head on a Lowe corner and the ball bounced towards goal. The header was cleared off the line, though, and despite Shields’ appeals for handball, play was waved on.
The home side maintained their one-goal lead until half-time and started the second half well, but debutant Scott Moloney was called into action for the first time on 51 minutes when Luca Navarro’s strike stung his palms.
Lowe nearly doubled his tally soon afterwards when his 25 yard free-kick rattled the woodwork, and Main created the next chance for himself by wriggling past two defenders before firing over.
Amid a series of substitutions for both sides, goalmouth action was in short supply. One of the replacements, Radcliffe’s Jean-Louis Akpa-Akpro, fired a warning with 15 minutes of regulation time left as he cut inside from the right and sent a low shot whistling wide.
Shields responded immediately, and Mitch Rose and Lowe both tested McIntyre from distance as they searched for a second goal which would surely have sealed the points. They did not have much longer to wait.
It arrived on 80 minutes when McIntyre’s loose clearance was pounced on by Hooper and he ran towards goal. The chance looked to have evaded him when two defenders got back to cover but Hooper kept his composure, shifted the ball onto his right foot and whipped it into the top corner with a tremendous finish to make it 2-0.
The goal made the final stages less nervy than they could have been as Shields saw the game out with relative ease.
They will go in search of a third consecutive win on Tuesday when they travel to Ashton United.
South Shields: Moloney, Rose, Adams (c), McGowan, Morse, Bodenham, Tee, Lowe, Hooper (Hodgson 87), Jenkins (Briggs 71), Main (Osei 71). Subs not used: Shaw, Kempster.
Goals: Lowe (pen 6), Hooper (80).
Image: Kev Wilson.