Nantwich Town 0-1 South Shields: Mumba strikes in crucial win
Bali Mumba drilled home the only goal of the game as South Shields claimed a vital victory against promotion rivals Nantwich Town to move nine points clear at the top of the BetVictor Northern Premier Division.
Mumba’s strike two minutes into the second half was a fine way for the Sunderland loanee to mark his first start for the Mariners, who moved 14 points ahead of Nantwich with their win.
It was a hard-fought encounter between the sides in Cheshire, with Shields overcoming three injury blows to seal a clean sheet and with it, a bit of revenge for their 4-1 defeat at home to the same opponents in February.
Lee Picton and Graham Fenton made five changes to the side which won 2-1 at Bamber Bridge three days earlier, and opted to switch to a new formation as they fielded five at the back.
The closest Nantwich came to scoring was a whipped free-kick by Sean Cooke in the third minute which flashed across the box but evaded a touch.
The Mariners responded well and after Jason Gilchrist headed wide from a Jon Shaw cross, they went closer still as Mumba cut inside from the left before firing a low effort which was well saved by Cameron Gregory in the Dabbers goal.
Myles Boney made two important saves in the first half for Shields, first palming a deflected strike from Cooke wide before later pushing a Joe Malkin shot past the post as the forward ran through on goal.
At the other end, Gilchrist drew a smart save from Gregory and Jordan Hunter almost opened the scoring with a powerful effort from the edge of the area which took a slight deflection.
Mumba broke the deadlock less than two minutes into the second half as he drove down the right of the box and fired a low shot across the goalkeeper and into the bottom corner.
The teenager proved too hot to handle in the second half and was repeatedly fouled, but the hosts were unable to stop him.
He almost created a second goal as he got in behind down the left and delivered a cross onto the head of Gilchrist, whose header went over.
Nantwich attempted to create some pressure in the closing stages but were unable to test Boney again as Shields remained resolute and saw out a vital victory.
They face another titanic tussle on Saturday when they welcome second-placed FC United of Manchester to Mariners Park.
A big crowd is expected and supporters are advised to buy tickets in advance from www.southshieldsfc.co.uk, by calling 0191 454 7800 between 12pm and 5pm or visiting Mariners Park between the same times.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Boney, Hunter, Adams (Gillies 81), Verstraaten, Morse (Baxter 20), Brown (Gonzales 62), Briggs, Ross, Gilchrist, Shaw (c), Mumba. Subs not used: Turnbull, Lowe.
Goal: Mumba (47).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.