Robert Briggs equalised from the spot in stoppage time for the second game in a row as South Shields remained in the Evo-Stik Premier Division title hunt.

Briggs converted a penalty in the 92nd minute at Stafford Rangers, cancelling out a goal scored by the hosts midway through the first half.

The result kept Shields three points behind leaders Farsley Celtic, although Warrington Town have now leapfrogged them into second after they won at Stalybridge Celtic.

The Mariners host Scarborough Athletic on Monday in a game they are likely to need to win to stay in title contention.

On arguably the most testing playing surface they have encountered all season, Shields were forced to adapt their tactics at Marston Road.

Their start was effective enough, with Nathan Lowe sending a free-kick over from distance and Luke Daly shooting wide after a ball in from the left by David Foley.

But it was Stafford who took the lead in the 25th minute.

A long throw from the left by Tom Thorley was nodded down to the feet of Theo Bailey-Jones, and he tucked the ball into the bottom corner from 12 yards.

A win for the hosts would have seen them all but ensure survival in the league for another season, but they were almost pegged back immediately when a strike from outside the box by Robert Briggs took a deflection which carried it just wide.

Stafford almost doubled their advantage 11 minutes before half-time when Bailey-Jones let fly from distance, but Liam Connell made a tremendous one-handed save to tip the ball over the bar.

Another opportunity came and went for the home side as Ben Mills forced his way through on the right of the area before drilling a low ball which Connell did well to kick away.

Shields’ best chance to draw level came eight minutes into the second half when a flick-on by Connor Bell was latched onto by Foley, but Stafford goalkeeper Adam Siviter narrowed the angle and kept out his effort.

The Mariners were mainly reduced to half-chances, and another of them went begging as a ball over the top from Jon Shaw found Daly, but he fired past the post.

Bell also saw a shot blocked from a good position as Shields continued to be frustrated.

Stafford almost sealed the points as the game ticked into stoppage time as Jake Charles hit an effort just wide, but there was to be one last twist.

A ball over the top found substitute Josh Gillies, who touched it around Siviter before being bundled to the ground by a defender just inside the box.

Briggs stepped up and picked out the bottom corner with a nerveless penalty to salvage another point for Shields.

SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter (Adams 68), Lough, Shaw (c), Morse, Lowe, Foley (Gillies 63), Briggs, Harmison, Daly, Bell (Mason 81). Subs not used: Mouanda, Turnbull.

Goal: Briggs (pen 90+2).

Attendance: 801.

WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.

Robert Briggs salvaged a point for South Shields with a dramatic stoppage time penalty as Basford United were denied victory at the death at Mariners Park.

Briggs converted from the spot seven minutes into added time as Shields snatched a 1-1 draw which left them three points behind Evo-Stik Premier Division leaders Farsley Celtic.

The Mariners had not been at their best – Basford hit the woodwork three times in the first half – but showed character in abundance to continue battling and eventually secure a point which could yet prove crucial.

A bitter and at times strong wind made life difficult for both teams but it was Basford who started the strongest, and they almost went in front as early as the second minute.

Lewis Carr advanced down the left flank and sent in a cross which was caught by the wind and struck the top of the crossbar as Shields breathed a sigh of relief.

There was another close shave for the Mariners soon after when Jack Thomas went on an impressive run down the right and sent in a delivery which was met by the head of Henri Wilder before a deflection sent it wide.

Shields eventually played themselves into some rhythm as they showed glimpses of the form which had seen them secure six successive victories, and almost opened the scoring when Robert Briggs played in Luke Daly and his goalbound effort was brilliantly saved by the outstretched foot of Basford goalkeeper Kieran Preston.

The visitors’ response was strong, and they had a golden chance to take the lead as Nathan Watson received the ball on the right and sent in a superb cross for Matt Thornhill, but he sent his effort away from goal from eight yards.

Basford hit the bar again when Thomas came inside from the right and dinked an effort which beat Liam Connell but did not have enough dip on it to drop below the crossbar.

Daly provided Shields’ biggest spark and he again tested Preston with a low drive which the goalkeeper pushed behind for a corner.

Basford continued to give as good as they got, though, and they were left scratching their heads as to how they did not go in front on the stroke of half-time.

Thornhill’s header from a Ryan Wilson free-kick was destined for the net before Connell pulled off a miraculous save and the rebound then struck the crossbar before being hacked off the line.

Shields will have been eager to make a better impression after half-time and they did that with a bright 10 minute spell.

They began to pepper the Basford goal with shots, with Nathan Lowe shooting over three times from distance before Briggs aimed for the spectacular with an effort from 10 yards inside his own half which Preston scrambled to save.

Connell still had to be alert at the other end, though, and kept out a shot from Thornhill after a Basford counter-attack.

The hosts were stunned on the hour mark as Basford took the lead. A free-kick was launched into the Shields box and after a spot of pinball, Carr fired the ball home with a low effort.

Shields had half an hour to rescue something from the game but found clear-cut chances difficult to come by.

Craig Baxter and Lowe had shots saved, while at the other end, Connell made a stunning one-handed stop to keep out a piledriver from Thomas.

The Mariners built up some momentum in the latter stages and substitute Ben Harmison had a good chance to bring them level with four minutes left, but headed wide at the back post.

Jon Shaw – pushed up-front in stoppage time – smashed two efforts not far off target before the key moment arrived four minutes into stoppage time when another Shaw shot was cleared off the line by the hand of Basford defender Wilson, who was shown a straight red card by the referee.

What followed was a three-minute delay which saw Wilson delay his exit from the field while a team-mate kicked away the penalty spot marking, before a scuffle delayed the spot-kick further.

The coolest man in the ground was Briggs, though, as he stepped up to smash the penalty into the top corner with just about the last kick of the game.

It was his 18th goal of the season and could yet prove to be the most important.

SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Adams, Shaw (c), Morse, Turnbull (Harmison 76), Daly, Briggs, Mason (Cogdon 61), Lowe, Bell (Foley 61). Subs not used: Lough, Mouanda.

Goal: Briggs (pen 90+7).

Attendance: 1,509.

WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.

South Shields made it six consecutive wins as they overcame Workington AFC by two goals to nil.

Robert Briggs calmly converted a penalty just before the break after captain Jon Shaw had been fouled in the box.

The in-form Nathan Lowe then sealed the three points with a free-kick that proved too powerful for Aaran Taylor midway through the second half as Shields maintained the pressure on league leaders Farsley Celtic.

Joint manager Lee Picton had said after watching his side beat Hednesford Town on Saturday that the Workington clash would be a “different test altogether”.

And that rang true in the opening exchanges as a bobbly pitch prevented the Mariners from getting into their normal passing stride.

The first real chance of the game fell to the visitors on 15 minutes, however. After an initial free-kick was cleared, midfielder Lowe made a brilliant tackle to win back the ball before his snapshot was gathered by Taylor.

Two minutes later the hosts nearly took the league for themselves. David Symington curled a free-kick over the wall from 25 yards on the left of the box, but it curled just past Liam Connell’s upright.

In truth, it seemed likely that this contest would be settled from a set-piece, with both sides proving to be more dangerous from dead ball situations than open play.

This time, it was striker Ben Harmison who came close as he connected with Phil Turnbull’s deep free-kick but it lacked any placement, allowing the keeper to make a routine save.

Shields continued to pose a threat from set-plays. Phil Turnbull swung a dangerous free-kick into the penalty area, and skipper Shaw was hauled to the ground as he tried to meet the delivery. The referee had no hesitation as he pointed to the spot.

Briggs, who has been in superb goalscoring form this term, stepped up from 12 yards and placed his penalty into the right hand side of the net.

Just after the break, shot-stopper Connell was called into action for the first time as he did well to get behind Dan Carmichael’s sweet strike from distance.

Just as in the first period, set pieces seemed to be the more likely opening for both teams, so Lowe was presented with a great opportunity to extend his side’s lead as Luke Daly was fouled on the right hand side of the box.

From 20 yards, he stepped up and powered a drive that proved to be too well placed and powerful for Taylor, who got a hand to it that was insufficient keep it out of his goal.

From this point on, the Mariners looked comfortable as they saw out another vital three points in the season run-in.

With victory, Shields extended their winning form to six consecutive victories, keeping in touch with leaders Farsley Celtic, and keeping their promotion hopes very much alive.

SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Adams, Shaw (c), Morse, Turnbull, Briggs (Lough 45), Lowe, Daly, Bell (Cogdon 84), Harmison (Mason 71).

Goals: Briggs (42), Lowe (78).

Attendance: 413.

WORDS: Chris Erswell. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.