South Shields survived late drama as they saw off Farsley Celtic on penalties to book their place in the second round of the Integro League Challenge Cup.
The Mariners looked to be cruising into the second round of the competition when second half goals from Michael Richardson and Jon Shaw put them into a commanding lead.
However, EVO-STIK Premier Division side Farsley hit back on 89 and 93 minutes to send the tie to a penalty shootout.
The hosts scored all five of their spot kicks to progress despite the late disappointment of Farsley’s comeback as they held their nerve in the end.
It had been a somewhat disjointed affair at Mariners Park, with neither side able to find their rhythm in the first half.
Andrew Stephenson went close for Shields in the early stages when his stunning curled effort clipped the crossbar.
The visitors were not far away from taking the lead themselves 10 minutes before half-time, with Adam Priestley getting in behind before smashing his shot into the side netting.
Stephenson was left frustrated again soon after when his header from a Matty Pattison free-kick – which was destined for the top corner – was clawed away by Farsley goalkeeper Kyle Trennery.
The Mariners improved after the break, and after Barrie Smith hammered an effort just over, they took the lead soon after.
Stephenson sent a superb ball over the top for Richardson, whose lob beat Trennery and just bounced in.
Shields had momentum and soon doubled their advantage when an excellent left wing cross from Darren Lough was clinically headed home by Shaw.
The visitors almost got back into it when a shot across goal by Ben Atkinson was palmed away by Liam Connell, and the rebound from Luke Parkin was tremendously blocked by Louis Storey.
Smith, Richardson and Luke Sullivan all went close to wrapping it up, but Farsley kept the game alive.
Mariners academy duo Ethan Biwer, 17, and Ryan Colquhoun, 16, were brought on in the second half as they made their first team debuts for the club.
Colquhoun, in fact, became Shields’ youngest-ever player, aged just 16 years, four months and 12 days.
James Pollard pulled a goal back out of the blue on 89 minutes when his magnificently struck free-kick from distance went in via the post.
An unlikely late comeback saw the visitors equalise deep into stoppage time when Luke Parkin stepped up to slot home a penalty.
In the end, though, it was spot-kicks which came to Shields’ rescue.
Richardson, Sullivan, Robert Briggs, Louis Storey and Shaw all converted their penalties, and just one Farsley miss – which hit the bar – was enough to seal the Mariners’ progress as they avoided making two cup exits in a week, having been beaten 2-1 by Hartlepool United in the Emirates FA Cup on Saturday.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Nicholson (Biwer 57), Lough, Shaw (c), Storey, Briggs, Richardson, Smith, Sullivan, Stephenson (R Colquhoun 81), Pattison (Callaghan 72). Subs not used: Norton, Cogdon.
Goals: Richardson (53), Shaw (56).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.