Lancaster City 1 VS 2 South Shields
A well-taken double by Jason Gilchrist sealed a vital three points for South Shields in their top-of-the-table clash at Lancaster City.
Gilchrist twice put the Mariners ahead at Giant Axe and his 70th minute strike was enough to secure a 2-1 win which moved his side six points clear at the top of the BetVictor Northern Premier Division.
Rob Wilson’s first half penalty had drawn the Dolly Blues level, but they were unable to repeat their November victory at Mariners Park as they lost ground in the title race.
Shields made no changes to the team which defeated Mickleover Sports 5-2 a week earlier and it took them just 12 minutes to take the lead.
Craig Baxter chipped a ball forward from deep inside the Shields half and it was flicked on by Sefton Gonzales to Gilchrist, who raced through and rounded goalkeeper Sam Ashton before directing a low effort narrowly over the line just as it appeared he had taken it too wide.
The Mariners had an opportunity to make it 2-0 midway through the first half when Gonzales found Nathan Lowe and he played it inside to Robert Briggs, who swept a shot wide from the edge of the box.
Craig Baxter bravely blocked from Lewis Fensome at the other end before Shields almost doubled their advantage when some space opened up for Lowe on the left of the area and his powerful left-foot strike was brilliantly saved by the foot of Ashton.
Lancaster’s equaliser came from the penalty spot after Gary Brown had fouled Fensome just as he appeared set to pull the trigger from six yards.
Wilson struck the spot-kick into the top corner as he sent Myles Boney the wrong way to level the table-topping contest.
Many in the ground thought Shields had gone back in front five minutes before half-time when Lowe’s curler from 20 yards went just past the post, but the sides went in at the break level.
Graham Fenton and Lee Picton – who were chasing a 150th win in charge of the Mariners – made a bold double substitution at the interval as Blair Adams and Wouter Verstraaten were introduced to the action.
It proved to be an inspired change as Shields showed considerable improvement in the second half. It was an improvement which would deliver a vital three points.
They always appeared to have the upper hand in the second half although opportunities were hard to come by, and it appeared certain the Mariners would need to be clinical if one did fall their way.
Twenty minutes from time, the key chance came. Brown lofted a ball forward which was held up by Gonzales and played back to Lowe, who placed a superb pass through to Gilchrist on the right of the box.
Gilchrist produced a superb one-touch finish across the goalkeeper to send the tremendous travelling support into raptures and make a crucial victory considerably more likely.
Shields needed to be resolute in the final stages as Lancaster attempted to launch a late onslaught with a series of long balls and set-pieces.
The team held firm as they saw out the victory to move six points ahead of their opponents at the top.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Boney, Hunter (Adams 46), Baxter, Shaw (c), Brown, Turnbull, Thompson (Verstraaten 46), Briggs (Ross 77), Gilchrist, Lowe, Gonzales. Subs not used: Gillies, Mason.
Goals: Gilchrist (12, 70).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.