South Shields 0-0 Morpeth Town
South Shields were held to a goalless draw by Morpeth Town in a feisty derby at 1st Cloud Arena on Tuesday.
Jason Gilchrist struck the bar in the first half as Shields produced another largely positive performance in the Pitching In Northern Premier League but were again unable to find the net.
The match featured a remarkable 14 yellow cards including nine for the away side as the rivalry between the two teams lost none of its edge, despite restrictions limiting the crowd to a size of 300.
The statistics show that Shields registered one effort on target over the 90 minutes, although that does not reflect how close they came to scoring on a number of occasions.
The first of those was in the 10th minute as Robert Briggs dinked a ball into the box which was headed across the box by Blair Adams to Alex Kempster, whose effort from close range was brilliantly blocked by Morpeth captain Jeff Henderson to deny a certain goal.
The resulting corner was played short and Briggs then curled in a superb delivery which Dillon Morse headed wide from another presentable position.
The Mariners went closer still as they continued their fast start, with Callum Ross’ terrific cross powerfully headed goalwards by Gilchrist, only for Morpeth goalkeeper Dan Lawson to tip the ball onto the bar. Gilchrist got to the loose ball first and this time was kept off the scoresheet by another Henderson block which had a hint of handball about it.
It was Kempster’s turn to threaten the Highwaymen’s goal on 20 minutes after a fine Shields move, with the forward skipping away from two defenders before driving just over from the inside-right of the area.
Gilchrist volleyed wide and Phil Turnbull fired over as the Mariners’ dominance continued, before Myles Boney was called on to make two important saves before the break to prevent Morpeth taking the lead, with Michael Turner and Jack Foalle both denied.
Opportunities were harder to come by in the second half although one did fall the way of the visitors six minutes after the restart, with Shields substitute Craig Baxter saving what appeared to be a likely goal as he timed a tackle on Foalle brilliantly.
The Mariners’ best chance fell to another substitute, Darius Osei, after he linked up well with strike partner Gilchrist before powering through towards goal and firing over.
Briggs and Gilchrist were both denied by blocks late on and Briggs saw a penalty appeal waved away, but much of the second half was taken up by stoppages and the regular appearance of the referee’s yellow card.
Shields are back in action on Saturday when they take on FC Halifax Town at 1st Cloud Arena in the final qualifying round of the Emirates FA Cup.
South Shields: Boney, Hunter, Adams, Ross, Morse, Jones (Baxter 32), Turnbull, Briggs (c), Gilchrist, Verstraaten (Gillies 75), Kempster (Osei 59). Subs not used: Agnew, McCamley.
Image: Kev Wilson.