Marine 1 VS 3 South Shields
A double from Nathan Lowe helped South Shields to a vital 3-1 win at Marine as they stayed within a point of Evo-Stik Premier Division leaders Farsley Celtic.
On a day which saw each of the division’s top four secure maximum points, the Mariners were made to work on Merseyside.
They recovered from slow starts to both halves to win comfortably in the end, with Liam Connell saving an early penalty before Lowe’s brace was added to by a goal from Lee Mason on a sunny afternoon in Liverpool.
Shields were dealt a blow on the eve of the game when David Foley – who was so influential in the previous week’s 4-0 win over Hyde United – was ruled out through illness.
Connor Bell replaced Foley in the starting line-up and the Mariners got off to a sluggish start, conceding a penalty after just three minutes as Danny Mitchley was fouled in the area.
Steven Irwin took the responsibility from the spot for the hosts but was thwarted by Connell as he dived low to his left and pushed the ball to safety.
It was a let-off for the Mariners but they did not immediately spring into action, and breathed another sigh of relief when a Dylan Sumner effort flashed wide.
As the first half wore on, Shields’ confidence grew and they fired their first warning when the lively Luke Daly worked himself into some space on the right of the area and pulled a ball inside to Bell, who shot into the side netting.
At the other end, captain Jon Shaw blocked from James Murray but forays forward by Marine were becoming increasingly rare.
Shields made the breakthrough in some style before the half-hour.
Lowe received the ball with his back to goal near the halfway line on the right and dropped his shoulder to get away from one defender before tricking his way past another and burying a 25 yard effort with his left foot.
Marine responded well and went close to equalising almost immediately when a shot from the right of the area by Mitchley was deflected onto the roof of the net.
Mason had two good opportunities to double the Mariners’ advantage before half-time, but saw his first effort blocked and blazed the second chance over.
The home side came out of the blocks well in the second half and almost levelled within a minute of the restart when Danny Shaw’s header from a corner crashed against the crossbar.
Mitchley was Marine’s biggest threat and he had a number of half-chances in the second half without seriously testing Connell.
Shields stretched their lead on the hour mark as Phil Turnbull clipped a ball into the left channel and Daly combined well with Bell before hooking in a tremendous cross which presented Mason with his easiest goal of the season as he converted from close range.
Marine should have pulled a goal back less than a minute later, but Murray blasted over from eight yards after a cross from the left.
Connell saved from Irwin before Shields made the points safe as Daly brilliantly beat his man on the right and brushed a deft pass into the feet of Lowe, who curled a superb shot into the bottom corner to double his tally for the afternoon.
Marine almost immediately got on the scoresheet themselves when, moments after Connell had tipped a Charley Edge free-kick onto the bar, Mitchley scrambled the ball over the line via a deflection.
It was too late for the hosts to force themselves back into contention, though, as the Mariners kept up their fine form.
With just six league games remaining, it’s still all to play for.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Adams (Lough 69), Shaw (c), Morse, Turnbull, Lowe (Mouanda 86), Briggs, Mason (Cogdon 75), Daly, Bell. Subs not used: Guy, Gillies.
Goals: Lowe (29, 78), Mason (60).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.