Penalty heartache for young Mariners
South Shields’ Under-19s suffered an agonising exit from the National League Academy Cup as FC Halifax Town edged a penalty shootout after an entertaining but goalless semi-final tie at 1st Cloud Arena.
There were chances at both ends but the young Mariners arguably edged proceedings in the South Tyneside sunshine, only to be beaten 7-6 on spot-kicks.
A terrific crowd of more than 250 turned out to back Shields, who created an early chance when Joao Gomes dragged his shot just wide of the left post following a brilliant bit of goalkeeping distribution from Callum Dobson, who sent the ball the length of the pitch after saving a free-kick.
Dobson, continuing his fine form in the competition, stopped an almost certain goal on 18 minutes as he parried away a thunderous strike from Halifax’s Jake Hemingway.
Back up the other end of the pitch, Dan Waldon also had a rocket of a volley saved from close range, denying Shields the goal that their pressure had deserved.
Bryan Taylor kept the home side level heading into the interval with a clearance off the line, but the end of the first half was a quieter affair as the deadlock remained to be broken.
The second half began with another impressive save from Dobson low to his left following a dangerous in-swinging cross from Frankie Sinfield.
The Mariners had chances of their own, too, one of which followed some fine work by Waldon as he beat his man and touched the ball across the face of goal, only to see it cleared just as James McGeorge was about to tap it home. Waldon was also just off target after turning in the box shortly afterwards.
With 74 minutes on the clock, Gomes produced a brilliant showing of hold-up play as he received the ball, held his man off, advanced into an attacking position and rifled a shot at goal which was saved by the Halifax goalkeeper Lewis Hayley.
Halifax number ten Lucas Schofield carried the ball almost the length of the whole of the Shields half on 80 minutes, but couldn’t quite find his finishing touch, dragging his effort wide of the right post.
The young Mariners piled on the pressure in the closing stages, coming close on a number of occasions, but they couldn’t find the net and after 90 goalless minutes, the tie went straight to a penalty shootout.
Despite some brilliant Shields finishes and an excellent save by Dobson, it was not to be for the hosts as a clinical Halifax side secured a 7-6 win on spot-kicks and progress to the final.
South Shields: Dobson, Watson (Neary 65), Taylor, Thompson, Marriott, Walker (Cresdee 82), Rossiter (Kidd 49), Lukeman (Fletcher 82), Waldon, McGeorge, Gomes.
Image: Kev Wilson.