Match Report: South Shields 2-3 Whitby Town

Match Report: South Shields 2-3 Whitby Town

Whitby Town came from behind to inflict a 3-2 defeat on South Shields in the Mariners’ final home match of the regular league season.

The result – coupled with Buxton’s 1-0 victory over Matlock Town – means Shields are set to compete in the play-offs, the semi-final of which will be held next Tuesday.

They had looked set to keep pace with the Bucks heading into the last set of fixtures when goals from Darius Osei and JJ Hooper earned them a 2-1 lead at half-time.

The Mariners were unable to capitalise on opportunities to extend that advantage, though, and Whitby struck twice late on through Marcus Giles and Jacob Hazel to take all three points.

Shields were impressive in the early stages and went close twice within the first 10 minutes, with Blair Adams and Osei both denied by Seasiders goalkeeper Shane Bland.

Hooper also had a good chance when he got on the end of a Dillon Morse flick-on, but his hooked effort cleared the crossbar.

The deserved breakthrough arrived on 16 minutes as Robert Briggs hit the ball downfield and Osei pounced on a loose clearance before swivelling in the area and firing into the bottom corner.

Shields were well on top and almost doubled their lead when Hooper played in Adams down the left of the box and he squared it to Osei, who was thwarted by Bland from close range.

Whitby equalised just after the midway point in the first half thanks to a fine pass by Harry Green and an excellent run and finish from Hazel, with a deflection leaving Myles Boney with no chance to react to the low strike.

The Mariners’ response was emphatic and they were back in front before the half-hour after Jordan Hunter picked out Hooper with an excellent cross and his header found the top corner.

The away side were now an established threat in the contest, though, and Green combined with Hazel again to unlock another golden chance, only for the league’s top goalscorer to turn his shot wide.

After the break, the opportunities continued to come. The first of them was a header by Whitby captain Daniel Rowe which Briggs headed to safety, although the ball appeared to be drifting just wide.

Hooper was unfortunate not to double his tally when Will McGowan played him in down the right of the box and he rifled a shot narrowly wide of the opposite post, and Shields went close again as Osei was played in but fired at Bland and a further strike by Hunter found the side netting.

The Mariners were made to pay for those missed chances when substitute Giles nipped in behind and angled a low effort which kissed the post on its way into the Shields net with 13 minutes remaining.

There was enough time left for Shields to respond and they did just that.

Substitute Cedric Main dug out a cross which Hooper headed onto the roof of the net and a Hunter cross was headed wide by Main as the hosts generated some momentum.

Ultimately it was the visitors who clinched the decisive fifth goal, though, as Hazel worked the ball onto his left foot and hit a low shot which was taken past Boney by a deflection.

Main and Hooper were both denied by blocks in the final whistle of stoppage time but Whitby saw things out to take the points.

Shields’ final league fixture is at Grantham Town on Saturday and, barring an extremely unlikely set of results, they are now set to compete in the play-offs.

South Shields: Boney, Hunter, Adams (c) (Kempster 82), Shaw, Morse, Bodenham, Rose, Briggs, Hooper, McGowan (Main 75), Osei (Tee 75). Subs not used: Wilding, Hodgson.

Goals: Osei (16), Hooper (29).

Attendance: 2,669.

Image: Kev Wilson.