Seaham Red Star 1-2 South Shields: Briggs special seals three big points
South Shields had to dig deep to claim a vital three points at Seaham Red Star on Friday.
A moment of supreme quality won the day as a tremendous free-kick from Robert Briggs found the top corner to seal a 2-1 victory for Shields.
The Mariners are now two points behind Northern League Division One leaders North Shields, who face Dunston UTS on Saturday afternoon.
Shields suffered a nightmare start at Seaham Town Park as they were caught in possession at the back, and Craig Lynch punished them to score within the first 40 seconds.
The hosts had began the game extremely brightly, and Liam Connell was called into action soon after when he held onto an effort by Luke Proctor from the edge of the box.
The Mariners gained a foothold after a shaky start, and began to create opportunities, with Dillon Morse heading over from an Andrew Stephenson cross and Michael Richardson just failing to get on the end of a move when he looked likely to equalise..
Carl Finnigan also headed a good opportunity over from a Julio Arca free-kick as Shields tried to turn the screw.
They went agonisingly close to drawing level on the stroke of half-time as Richardson drove through the centre before curling a terrific effort off the crossbar, while Briggs sent the rebound wide.
The Mariners introduced livewire Adam Wrightson at the break, and he made an immediate impact, flashing a shot not far wide within four minutes of coming on.
It was far from one-way traffic, though, as a spirited Seaham side continued to provide a threat, which was underlined when Bradley Staunch headed a presentable opportunity wide from a corner.
At the other end, Wrightson seemed on a mission to provide the equaliser, and saw one shot well saved by home goalkeeper Shaun Newbrook before slicing an effort wide from the edge of the box.
On the hour mark, the Mariners did drew level.
The breakthrough came as Arca picked up the ball 30 yards out on the right and clipped a sublime ball into the box which went into the net via a touch from Finnigan and a defender.
That didn’t prove to be a springboard for Shields as Seaham produced their best spell of the game.
Robbie Bird drove an effort against the crossbar, while Proctor had a goal ruled out for offside.
Another great chance fell the way of Bird as he was this time found on the inside left of the box, but he stabbed it wide.
Shields came through the testing period and were rewarded with 20 minutes remaining.
Briggs curled a sumptuous free-kick from outside the box on the left in off the bar, giving Newbrook no chance as he netted his 12th of the season.
Morse made a superb block late on to keep out an effort from Lee Hetherington, and a final opportunity fell the way of Bird in stoppage time, who scooped it over.
Shields were not at their best, but showed great resolve to dig in for maximum points and make it 15 wins from their last 16 games.
They are next in action next Saturday, when they make the trip to Washington in the league.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Callaghan, Shaw (Smith 66), Morse, Arca (c), Briggs, Stephenson (Wrightson 46), Finnigan (Phillips 87), Richardson, Foley. Subs not used: Holden, Ramsey.
Goals: Finnigan (60), Briggs (70).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.