Nantwich Town 0-0 South Shields: Mariners draw at league leaders
South Shields registered their first league draw of the season on Saturday as their clash with Evo-Stik Premier Division leaders Nantwich Town ended goalless.
The Mariners dominated much of the match at the Weaver Stadium, but were unable to find a way past home goalkeeper William Jaaskelainen.
They claimed a clean sheet despite conceding a first half penalty, with Nantwich’s Daniel Glover blazing his spot-kick over the bar.
The result left Shields in seventh, nine points behind Nantwich with four games in hand.
The Mariners had mixed emotions after the game, leaving Cheshire pleased with the performance but frustrated not to have taken maximum points.
Clear-cut chances were hard to come by, but Shields did fashion one within the opening six minutes when Craig Baxter fizzed a low ball across the area and Carl Finnigan’s effort was off target.
Another impressive move down the right led to a cross from Lee Mason which was headed by Robert Briggs and well held by Jaaskelainen as the Mariners continued to look the more likely team to open the scoring.
Briggs had a shot from just outside the box deflected wide and the resulting corner from Nathan Lowe held up in the air before being palmed onto the post by Jaaskelainen.
It felt as though a goal was coming but, against the run of play, it almost arrived at the other end.
Nantwich countered and Joe Mwasile trickled a ball through to Sean Cooke, who was brought down by Liam Connell in the Shields goal.
Danny Glover took the responsibility from the spot but his effort sailed over the crossbar as Shields breathed a sigh of relief.
Buoyed by their let-off, the Mariners attacked with purpose again and Finnigan had a shot from just outside the box deflected wide. They had plenty of positives to build on in the second half.
Rain had teemed down for much of the afternoon and had an effect on the pitch, but Shields were still able to produce some bright passages of play.
Dillon Morse headed wide from a Lowe corner early in the second half as the Mariners continued to probe for a breakthrough.
Again, though, they were almost caught out at the other end as a hopeful effort from distance by Cooke moved in the air before Connell tremendously pushed the ball to safety with one hand.
Shields started to build some pressure on the Nantwich goal midway through the second half, with Lowe the first to go close when his shot was deflected over.
Jaaskelainen produced an impressive save at his near post when Jon Shaw got on the end of a Josh Gillies corner, and Shaw’s header from the next set-piece also went not far wide.
Gillies – introduced as a second half substitute – regularly threatened the home back-line with dangerous crosses from open play and set-pieces, but there was no way past Jaaskelainen.
Final opportunities fell the way of Finnigan, Briggs and David Foley, but none of their efforts were on target and the hosts survived.
Shields left Cheshire pondering whether they had gained a point or lost two. Time will surely tell.
They return to action on Saturday when they host Stalybridge Celtic in the Evo-Stik Premier Division.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Adams, Shaw (c), Morse, Turnbull, Cogdon (Gillies 66), Briggs, Mason (Foley 74), Finnigan, Lowe (Brown 80). Subs not used: Mouanda, Harmison.
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.