Prescot Cables 0 VS 0 South Shields
South Shields were forced to settle for a goalless draw at in-form Prescot Cables on an afternoon of few chances at Volair Park.
Both teams did their best to deal with the extremely difficult pitch and weather conditions, but could not find a breakthrough.
The hosts were reduced to 10 men late on as Shields pushed for a winner, but they eventually ran out of time as they earned a point which took them three clear at the top of EVO-STIK North.
The Mariners started brightly against their third-placed opponents, with Craig Baxter dispossessing his opponent on the right channel early on before releasing Gavin Cogdon, who dragged an effort wide.
Clear-cut chances were few and far between, though, as both teams struggled to get their football flowing on a tough surface.
Prescot's first sights of goal saw Baba Conte fire over from 12 yards and Jordan Wynne cut a shot wide after driving through the centre.
Shields' best opportunities of the half were in the latter stages of it as they began to put the hosts under pressure.
Robert Briggs lifted an effort not far over from just outside the box on the left, Jamie Holmes had one deflected wide after a strong run from the right and Carl Finnigan curled a shot off target.
A golden opportunity arrived in the last minute of the half as Cogdon worked his way into an excellent position on the right before sending a teasing ball across the area for Holmes, who fired over from a good position.
Shields goalkeeper Liam Connell was tested for the first time a minute into the second half as Wynne hit an effort from long range which he managed to beat away.
The closest Shields came was in the 54th minute when a left-wing corner from Briggs was met by Finnigan at the near post, who saw his header come back off the post.
Finnigan had another good opportunity less than a minute later as he got on the end of a cross from Cogdon, but he was unable to find a way past home goalkeeper Ben Purdham.
With rain teeming down and the conditions becoming ever more treacherous, it became increasingly likely that neither team would be able to make the deadlock.
However, with 13 minutes left, it looked like Shields may have unlocked the door. Cogdon was sent sprinting through on goal and with the striker about to pull the trigger, he was fouled on the edge of the box by Louis Coyne. The referee had no hesitation in showing him a red card.
The resulting free-kick from Briggs was deflected over by the wall, but even with a man advantage, it was a struggle for Shields to find a way past the resilient Cables.
The only chance of any note in the final stages fell to Cogdon, who controlled the ball just inside the box before directing a low effort which Purdham clung onto at the second attempt.
Overall, it is a point Shields may eventually come to look at as one gained as they strengthened their grip on top spot.
They are back in action on Tuesday when they host Stocksbridge Park Steels in the Integro League Challenge Cup at Mariners Park.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Lough, Storey, Morse, Arca (c) (Stephenson 62), Pattison, Briggs, Cogdon, Finnigan, Holmes. Subs not used: Norton, Shaw, Richardson, Sullivan.
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.