Stephen Ramsey grabbed his fifth goal of pre-season as South Shields secured a 2-1 win over Durham City at Mariners Park on Tuesday.
Durham became the third Ebac Northern League Division One side to be beaten by the Mariners, with Wayne Buchanan scoring the other goal before half-time in front of a crowd of 205.
There were few opportunities in the opening stages of the game, with Jonny Wightman heading wide for the hosts, while Gareth Young saved from Conor Okus at the other end.
Durham goalkeeper Jonny Ball saved an effort from Lee Scott, while Young was again on hand to deny a visiting player as Nicky Allen’s powerful shot across goal was well held.
Shields began to grow stronger as the first half wore on, and Warren Byrne had a piledriver of a free-kick deflected over the bar by the wall.
That set up a corner which the Mariners so nearly scored from. Wayne Phillips curled it in from the right and the ball was attacked by Scott, whose header was cleared off the line by Allen, while Byrne’s follow-up was smothered.
Daryll Hall headed over from a free-kick, and soon after, Adam Curry sent in a superb ball from the left over the top for Byrne, who touched it past his marker but just couldn’t get it under control, with Ball coming out to claim it.
The Mariners were growing in confidence, and some superb play saw them gradually shift the ball from the right to the left, with the eventual shot from Scott destined for the top corner before Ball produced a fine fingertip save.
The breakthrough arrived 10 minutes before half-time when Shields’ threat from set-pieces was finally rewarded. Phillips swung in a menacing corner from the right, and Buchanan attacked it, heading low into the net as he claimed his first goal for the club.
Substitute Lee Maitland headed wide from Jonny Wightman’s cross, while Young clung onto a header from Craig Lynch as Shields preserved their lead going into half-time.
A bright start to the second half was almost rewarded as some tremendous play from Curry on the left flank nearly found Scott in the centre, only for a visiting defender to cut out the cross.
Durham broke clear, and Callum Patton went close to restoring parity when he whistled a shot just past the post from 20 yards.
It was a lively start to the second period, and Wightman curled in a cross for Shields which was narrowly missed by Scott, while Maitland later went on a storming run through the centre, seeing off several challenges before dragging an effort wide.
Ramsey came on with 31 minutes remaining, and his first opportunity fell soon after when Barrie Smith sent in a cross from the right, with the Shields striker having a shot deflected over.
From the resulting Wightman corner, Ramsey’s header was cleared off the line by former Mariners defender Bodri Kwalangana.
At the other end, substitute goalkeeper Ryan Beal kept Shields ahead when he produced a fine stop from a Ross Wilkinson header, but Durham did get their equaliser on 76 minutes.
The Mariners gave the ball away at the back, and Lynch gratefully took it before cutting inside from the left and firing a low shot past Beal.
Shields did not spend any time licking their wounds, though, as they retook the lead almost immediately.
They attacked with pace down the left flank, and substitute Phil Gray sent in a superb low cross for Ramsey, who showed tremendous desire to get ahead of his marker and stab a low effort into the net.
The game was end-to-end at this point, and from the kick-off, Durham went extremely close to getting back on level terms, only to be denied by an inspired save by Beal. Lynch grabbed the ball in the box and powered a high effort which was destined for the top corner, but Beal stuck out an arm and stopped it from point-blank range with one hand.
Shields had opportunities to make their margin of victory more comfortable in the closing stages, but Aris Lokonga Guerin fired a shot over while Maitland was denied by the goalkeeper as the hosts were forced to settle for a 2-1 victory.
The Mariners are next scheduled to be in action against Newton Aycliffe on Saturday at Mariners Park (kick-off 3pm), but are looking for a friendly – home or away – this Thursday. Anyone interested can call 07795 024333.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Young (Beal 46), Smith (Heptinstall 80), Curry, Hall (c), Buchanan (Riding 44), Chapim (Kempster 69), Wightman, Ivanov (Maitland 35), Byrne (Ramsey 59), Scott (Guerin 64), Phillips (Gray 69).
Goals: Buchanan (35), Ramsey (77).