Radcliffe 0 VS 1 South Shields
A thunderbolt from Robert Briggs sealed an opening day victory for South Shields as they battled with 10 men to beat newly-promoted Radcliffe.
Briggs’ stunning 25-yard strike early in the second half proved to be the difference between the two sides.
At the time, Shields were at a one-man disadvantage after #striker Jason Gilchrist was shown a straight red card on his debut for an off the ball incident during the first half.
Twenty minutes before the end, Harry Winter was shown his second yellow card for the hosts as the numbers were evened up.
Shields saw out the remainder of the game to secure a well-deserved three points ahead of Tuesday’s home match against Ashton United.
There was not much between the sides in the opening stages as they attempted to work each other out, but the Mariners did show glimpses of their quality as they tried to make the breakthrough.
Good hold-up play by Gilchrist almost led to Josh Gillies being played in on goal, but an impressive interception denied him.
Dillon Morse also directed two headers towards goal without success, while Briggs sliced an effort wide from distance.
Shields suffered a major blow in the 34th minute, though, when after a tussle on the floor, Gilchrist was shown a straight red card despite much protestations.
The 11 men of Radcliffe could have opened the scoring shortly before the break, but Danny Mitchley sliced the ball wide after muscling his way through.
David Foley was introduced at half-time by the Mariners and was tasked with leading the line in the absence of Gilchrist.
The visitors almost fell behind just two minutes after the restart as a low cross from the right was deflected to Ben Wharton in front of goal, but the ball came at him quickly and bounced into the hands of Shields goalkeeper Myles Boney.
Briggs brought the game to life in the 51st minute when, after a Nathan Lowe effort from the edge of the box was cleared as far as him 30 yards from goal, he arrowed a stunning shot into the top corner to give his side the lead. It was the latest in an ever-increasing catalogue of long range screamers from the midfielder.
The Mariners went on to enjoy their best spell of the game as they wrestled control despite the one-man disadvantage.
They almost doubled their lead soon after as an appeal for handball was waved away and the loose ball fell the way of Gary Brown, who forced a one-handed stop out of home goalkeeper Oliver Martin.
Lowe went agonisingly close with a thunderbolt of a free-kick from distance which whistled into the side netting before the numbers were evened up as Radcliffe’s Winter was shown his marching orders after picking up a second yellow card for tripping Foley as he ran towards goal.
Blair Adams and Lowe were both denied as the Mariners looked to make the points safe but Radcliffe did enjoy some decent territory in the closing stages in their search of an equaliser.
They were off target with their efforts, though, with Prince Haywood firing over from 20 yards in one of their better opportunities.
At the other end, Foley sprinted clear before shooting wide, but the Mariners did not require another goal.
They saw the game out for an impressive clean sheet and a welcome three points as they started the season the way they mean to go on.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Boney, Brown, Adams, Shaw (c), Morse, Lowe, Daly (Turnbull 75), Briggs, Gilchrist, Thurston (Foley 46), Gillies (Charlton 64). Subs not used: Connell, Alli.
Goal: Briggs (51).
Red card: Gilchrist (34).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.