South Shields 2 VS 0 Gainsborough Trinity
South Shields made it four league wins on the spin as goals from Josh Gillies and Jon Shaw saw off the challenge of Gainsborough Trinity on a rain-sodden night at Mariners Park.
It was not a vintage performance from the Mariners but they stayed solid at the back to record a seventh clean sheet in 11 games and maintain their place at the top of the table.
Lee Picton and Graham Fenton named an unchanged team from the side which beat Basford United 2-0 three days earlier, and they were rewarded with the same scoreline.
Shields started brightly and went close after just seven minutes when Adam Thurston slipped the ball through to Gillies on the inside-left of the box and he curled a shot wide.
Gary Brown went closer as he got on the end of a Gillies corner and struck the ball goalwards, but his effort was cleared off the line.
The hosts continued their pressure on the Gainsborough goal but goalkeeper George Willis was proving difficult to beat and he pushed a shot from distance by Thurston away from goal as Shields continued to be kept off the scoresheet.
He was beaten in the 16th minute by a whipped free-kick from Robert Briggs, but the ball flashed over the crossbar.
Gainsborough’s best chance of the first half came from a 20 yard free-kick by Curtis Morrison which went not far past the post.
The Mariners quickly regained their ascendancy and after Jordan Annear glanced a header wide from a Gillies free-kick, they found the breakthrough three minutes before half-time.
Blair Adams touched the ball into the feet of Gillies on the left of the box and he cut onto his right foot before whipping in an effort which took a deflection and flashed past Willis in the Gainsborough goal.
The Holy Blues threatened an equaliser early in the second half after robbing Shields of possession in midfield, but Dillon Morse was on hand to block from Morrison after closing the angle effectively.
There was a feeling that the second goal of the game would prove crucial and the Mariners almost got it when a decent move involving half-time substitute Lee Mason saw the ball break through to Thurston, whose left foot effort from the right of the area bounced inches past the post.
Shields had a strong penalty appeal turned down halfway through the second half after Shaw was seemingly pulled to the ground, but just two minutes later a decision did go in their favour as Gainsborough’s Ashley Worsfold was given a straight red card for lashing out at Brown.
The Mariners struggled to make their one-man advantage count as Trinity continued to be dogged, although another big penalty appeal was waved away by the officials as a cross from Shaw appeared to hit the arm of a defender.
Gainsborough’s best opportunity fell the way of Joe Maguire eight minutes before the end as Nathan Hotte headed a corner across the area for him, but he could only blaze over when well placed.
Shields finally got the second goal to break their visitors’ resistance two minutes into stoppage time.
Substitute Millenic Alli superbly played the ball through for Shaw and a deft finish from the Shields captain kissed the post before nestling in the back of the net.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Boney, Hunter, Adams, Briggs, Morse, Brown, Thurston (Turnbull 59), Baxter, Annear (Mason 46), Gillies (Alli 84), Shaw (c). Subs not used: Wokoma, Charlton.
Goals: Gillies (42), Shaw (90+2).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.