Daryll Hall’s late header ensured South Shields’ remarkable run of wins went on as they beat Chester-le-Street 2-1 in the League Cup.
Hall nodded in 10 minutes before the end as the Mariners made it 16 victories in a row.
The match was watched by a superb crowd of 747 at Mariners Park, which was the club’s highest midweek attendance of the season.
And the Mariners thought they had the perfect start when Michael Turner rose highest to head home a corner from Julio Arca. However, the officials controversially ruled the goal out for a push.
Warren Byrne was also denied by the officials when he appeared to make a superb run before finishing with aplomb, but the offside flag was raised.
Shields had therefore suffered double frustration, but they almost finally broke the deadlock on 32 minutes when David Foley’s fizzed shot was parried by visiting goalkeeper Aiden Ames, and Byrne was just denied as he tried to slide in the rebound.
An effort from Wayne Phillips also went not far wide as the Mariners continued to press, while at the other end, Chester-le-Street were mainly restricted to half-chances and shots from distance.
When Phillips went on an impressive run and was fouled on the edge of the box five minutes before half-time, it appeared all set for an Arca special. However, the former Sunderland and Middlesbrough midfielder curled his free-kick narrowly over.
There was still time for Shields to create and miss another glorious opportunity before half-time when a tremendous ball from Arca found Barrie Smith on the right, and he wriggled his way past a number of players before skewing wide.
The Mariners looked bright after the break, too, and Smith had a cross excellently cut out before Leepaul Scroggins curled narrowly wide from distance.
The opportunities kept on coming, and a left-wing cross from Phillips was headed downwards and towards the corner by Arca, only for a fingertip save by Ames to deny him.
Byrne headed just over the bar from a Smith cross, but the Shields top scorer was not to be denied on 68 minutes.
Foley fired the ball into him in the box, and Byrne did the rest, controlling it before beating his man and hitting it coolly into the bottom of the net.
A snap shot from Foley soon after was kept out by Ames, and Shields were then stung on the counter-attack as the Cestrians levelled.
A superb through ball found Scott Heslop, and he dinked an effort home to restore parity and raise the prospect of extra-time.
However, as has been so often in the 16-match winning run, the Mariners found a way.
Ben Riding launched a long throw into the box from the right, and from 10 yards out, Hall sent a glancing header into the bottom corner as Shields were handed the advantage again.
They remained alert at the other end, with goalkeeper Scott Pocklington keeping out an effort from Michael Hepplewhite, but this time there was no way back for Chester-le-Street.
They survived a very strong penalty appeal in stoppage time as Foley went over in the box, but it was to matter little to the outcome as Shields booked their place in the next round of the competition.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Pocklington, Galpin, Turner, Hall, Riding, Arca, Smith (Wightman 87), Scroggins (c), Byrne (Ramsey 78), Foley, Phillips. Subs not used: Young, Briggs, Bulford.
Goals: Byrne (68), Hall (80).