Glossop North End 1 VS 3 South Shields
South Shields battled to a 3-1 win at a snowy Glossop North End as they ended a run of three weeks without a league game.
The Mariners had been left frustrated over recent weeks after a host of postponements stalled their bid for promotion from the Evo-Stik North Division.
They were in determined mood against Glossop, and opened the scoring in the second minute when Carl Finnigan flicked home his 21st goal of the season.
The hosts levelled just after the half hour mark, but within two minutes of that, Shields were ahead again as Jamie Holmes slid in a cross from Gavin Cogdon.
The points were sealed in the second half when Robert Briggs converted a penalty after an incident which saw Glossop goalscorer Benjamin Richardson sent off.
Snow blizzards and gusts of up to 45mph struck during the match at the Arthur Goldthorpe Stadium, providing difficulties for players and supporters alike.
The teams entered the pitch amid a heavy snow shower, and it was the Mariners who adapted to the conditions better in the early stages.
It took them less than 100 seconds to open the scoring when Darren Lough retrieved the ball on the left of the penalty area and sent it across the box, where Finnigan flicked it home to give the away side a perfect start.
With Gavin Cogdon back in the team after a lay-off with a hamstring injury, Shields looked threatening almost every time they attacked.
They almost made it a quickfire double when Holmes got in behind on the right, but goalkeeper Russell Saunders scrambled his shot behind for a corner.
Saunders also denied Louis Storey as the midfielder tried to convert from a tight angle, and Shields went even closer when Cogdon menacingly brought the ball inside from the right before striking an effort against the post.
Glossop started to gain a foothold in the game towards the half-hour mark, and when Darrhyl Mason got through on the inside-left of the area, Liam Connell had to be alert to make a smart stop.
A corner which followed soon after also saw the hosts go close when Courtney Meppen-Walter hit a shot which took a deflection and went narrowly wide.
The short period of pressure paid off when Glossop - with the wind at their backs - levelled as a ball across goal by Callum Spooner was converted from close range by Benjamin Richardson.
Shields' response was instant, and within two minutes they had restored their advantage.
Cogdon was again central to things as he sprinted in behind on the right before squaring for Holmes, who forced the ball over the line with a sliding finish.
It could have been 3-1 soon after when Cogdon again cut in from the right, but this time he fired just past the post.
An even better opportunity fell the way of Finnigan six minutes before the break, but after Cogdon squared the ball from the right, he was unable to get clean contact on it and the chance went begging.
Shields almost paid for that in first half stoppage time when Richardson let fly from distance for the hosts, but Connell brilliantly tipped the ball over the bar to maintain his side's lead.
The Mariners started the second half well, and almost went in front as Briggs' ball forward took a deflection on its way through to Holmes, but Saunders did well to stretch out a leg and force the ball wide.
From the resulting corner, though, arguably the key moment of the game swung it decisively in Shields' favour.
Briggs swung in the set-piece from the left and it was flicked on to Finnigan, who sent a header back towards goal.
Richardson tipped it over the bar with his hand, and after the referee spotted the infringement, he had no option other than to send off the Glossop goalscorer and award Shields a penalty.
Briggs sent Saunders the wrong way from the spot to all but wrap up the points.
The remainder of the game was a lesson in keep-ball from the Mariners as they conserved energy ahead of a hectic run of fixtures.
They had some opportunities to extend their advantage, but Storey, Graeme Armstrong and Briggs were all denied by Saunders, while at the other end, Connell saved from Spooner after a rare Glossop attack.
In all, it was a job well done for Shields as they remained two points behind leaders Hyde United, with three games in hand.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Lough, Shaw, Morse, Arca (c) (Pattison 77), Storey, Briggs, Cogdon (Armstrong 67), Finnigan (Mason 57), Holmes. Subs not used: Woolston, Ross.
Goals: Finnigan (2), Holmes (33), Briggs (pen 53).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.