South Shields 5 VS 2 Mickleover
South Shields survived a spirited Mickleover Sports fightback as a double from Sefton Gonzales helped them to a thrilling 5-2 win at Mariners Park.
First half goals from Arron Thompson and Nathan Lowe were cancelled out in five second half minutes by the visitors, who had won their previous three league matches.
Shields recovered brilliantly from that setback, though, with Gonzales striking his first two goals for the club late on while Jason Gilchrist also got on the scoresheet.
The result ensured the Mariners remained three points clear of Lancaster City at the top.
It was a testing afternoon for both sides in blustery conditions but Shields quickly seized control and thought they had taken the lead in the 13th minute when Gonzales bundled in a right-wing cross from Craig Baxter.
The goal was ruled out, though, after the referee adjudged Gonzales had fouled Mickleover goalkeeper Elias Rouse, much to Shields’ frustration.
The wind meant both goalkeepers had to be on high alert, particularly to the danger of efforts from long range, and Myles Boney showed he was up to the task when he kept out a strike from Ricky Ravenhill.
The Mariners broke the deadlock midway through the first half as Thompson netted his first senior goal for the club.
He drifted in a cross from the right which Gonzales tried to get on the end of before the ball dropped into a dangerous area, with Rouse unable to prevent it finding the bottom corner. Many suspected Gonzales had got a touch on the cross but he later confirmed he hadn’t, leaving Thompson to celebrate his first goal.
Shields were pressing their opponents brilliantly and carved Mickleover open again within two minutes of the restart before Baxter fired well over from the edge of the box.
The second goal arrived in stunning fashion on 32 minutes as Lowe received the ball back from a short corner before curling a fantastic effort into the top corner from the left, leaving Rouse with no chance.
The Mariners thought they had scored a third on the stroke of half-time after some sublime skill by Thompson and a composed finish from Gilchrist, but the flag went up for offside.
Shields appeared in complete control and had opportunities to go three goals up in the early stages of the second half.
Gilchrist flicked the ball wide after a terrific pass from Gonzales and saw a further shot saved by Rouse, who also produced a tremendous fingertip stop to deny Baxter.
Mickleover began to threaten a comeback after that but struggled to breach the Shields backline, with Boney saving a mis-hit effort from Greg Young, Gary Brown denying Stuart Beavon with a superb block and Thompson also blocking from the same player.
Shields’ threat was still there at the other end and they almost put the game to bed when Lowe dinked an effort just wide after impressive link-up with Gilchrist, while Robert Briggs also had a shot blocked.
A six-minute spell from the visitors stunned the Mariners as the scores were levelled heading into the closing stages.
After Andrew Wright had fired just over from the right of the area, Mickleover pulled one back as Patrick Webb headed in from close range following a Boney save from Beavon.
The equaliser came from a left-wing corner which dropped to Wright on the right of the box before he lashed the ball home.
Shields’ response was emphatic, though, as the crowd got fully behind their team.
Substitute Blair Adams delivered a terrific cross from the right and a controlled overhead kick from Gonzales found the bottom corner as he registered his first goal for the club before celebrating with a backflip.
Mariners Park erupted again 12 minutes before the end as Shields restored their two-goal lead when Lowe delivered a magnificent free-kick from deep on the left which was delicately touched home by Gilchrist for his 12th goal in 12 games.
Gonzales put the seal on it in the 89th minute as he headed home at the back post following some superb play on the left by Lowe, who was a menace throughout.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Boney, Hunter, Baxter (Adams 66), Shaw (c), Brown, Turnbull (Ross 77), Thompson, Briggs (Verstraaten 66), Gilchrist, Lowe, Gonzales. Subs not used: Morse, Mason.
Goals: Thompson (22), Lowe (32), Gonzales (75, 89), Gilchrist (78).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.