South Shields 3 VS 1 Bridlington Town
South Shields booked their place in the first qualifying round of the Emirates FA Cup as they claimed an entertaining 3-1 win over Bridlington Town in front of the BBC cameras.
Shields were pegged back early in the second half after Luke Sullivan had handed them the lead before half-time, and went on to claim victory thanks to a superb strike from Matty Pattison and late tap-in by Gavin Cogdon.
The crowd of over 1,400 at Mariners Park – and many more around the world watching live on BBC Sport’s online stream – were kept interested from the first minute to the last as Bridlington battled well, but Shields ultimately did enough to secure their passage into the next round.
They will find out their first qualifying round opponents when the draw is made on Monday.
Shields started Saturday’s game well, and almost took the lead inside three minutes when a curled free-kick from the right by Pattison just evaded a touch, and went not far wide.
A number of half-chances came and went for the Mariners before goalkeeper Liam Connell was called into action to make an impressive save from Ethan Nelson, who had let fly from distance.
Shields enjoyed good possession in the first half and began to press their opponents back.
Their best chance fell to Sullivan after he was picked out by a corner from Alex Nicholson, but he could only head over the crossbar.
Bridlington were dangerous when they got into attacking areas, and after Shields failed to clear a cross from the left, Benn Lewis flashed an effort wide from the inside-right of the area.
The Mariners quickened their play up and looked much better in the remainder of the first half.
Jamie Holmes went close as he controlled a lofted ball from Craig Baxter with his chest before stinging the palms of visiting goalkeeper James Hitchcock with a shot from just outside the box.
Another good opportunity came as Michael Richardson beat his man on the left, dribbled into the area and teed up a chance for Pattison, but he saw his effort blocked.
Shields’ attacks were relentless at this stage, and they went closer again when a low cross from Jamie Holmes was deflected by a defender and kissed the outside of the post.
Some of the physical aspects of Bridlington’s play had enraged much of the home support, and a dangerous challenge from Brett Agnew on Jon Shaw resulted in a yellow card – their third booking of the half.
Just as it appeared the away team looked likely to make it to half-time on level terms, Shields made the breakthrough.
Anthony Callaghan burst away on the left and when he pulled the ball across the box, Sullivan made no mistake as he tucked it away for his first competitive goal in Mariners colours.
If supporters thought that goal may open the floodgates in the second half, though, they were to be mistaken.
Shaw headed an early chance onto the roof of the net and Hitchcock just got to a through ball before Pattison, but Bridlington were soon on level terms.
Lewis brought the ball inside from the right and his effort took a deflection off Shaw before nestling in the corner, giving Connell no chance.
Shields needed to regroup, and almost went back ahead when Pattison played a superb ball through to Holmes, but Hitchcock came out well to narrow the angle before making the save.
At the other end, Jamie Forrester curled a free-kick over before the Mariners made a double change, introducing Barrie Smith and Cogdon, who was making his first appearance after returning from holiday.
Within five minutes of the substitutions, Shields were back in front thanks to a moment of brilliance from Pattison.
Mariners supporters have seen many similar goals in the past from Julio Arca, and this was up there with the best of them.
Pattison picked the ball up 25 yards from goal, shifted it onto his favoured left foot and then whipped a tremendous effort into the top corner to delight the home support.
In the closing stages, there were a number of opportunities for Shields to wrap the victory up.
Holmes got in behind on the inside-left of the box, but was again denied by Hitchcock, while Cogdon hit a shot over and later hit the post after beating a defender.
Smith could also have put the game to bed, but blasted a shot wide after being played into a good position.
Bridlington pushed men forward in stoppage time as they searched for an equaliser which would have earned them a midweek replay on home soil.
Even goalkeeper Hitchcock went forward for one free-kick, and he stayed up-field after Shields cleared it out for a throw-in.
After almost getting a touch on the delivery into the box, Hitchcock was left stranded as the Mariners broke down the right with Holmes, who beat his man and dribbled forward before playing it to Nicholson inside the area. He squared it for Cogdon, who made no mistake as he completed the job, with Hitchcock still desperately trying to make up the ground.
It rounded off an entertaining afternoon as the Mariners eventually claimed a deserved win to make progress in the cup.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Callaghan (Lough 77), Shaw (c), Morse, Briggs, Nicholson, Pattison, Sullivan (Cogdon 65), Richardson (Smith 65), Holmes. Subs not used: Norton, Storey, Blinco, Scott.
Goals: Sullivan (45), Pattison (70), Cogdon (90+2).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.