South Shields 1-0 Birtley
By Philip Reay. Match sponsored by: Ashley Timber Ltd.
Stephen Ramsey struck the winner for the second time in a week as South Shields beat Birtley Town 1-0 on Saturday.
Ramsey – who scored twice in a 2-1 victory at Esh Winning on Monday – found the net 10 minutes before half-time at Peterlee, and it proved to be decisive.
— Huey (@stevenhubery) April 11, 2015
A swirling wind across the Eden Lane pitch caused problems for both sets of players, and provided plenty of work for the South Shields ball boys.
The only of action of note inside the first 10 minutes saw Ramsey leave the field for a couple of minutes to change his shirt following a blow to the nose after a collision with a Birtley defender.
As the game approached the quarter hour, the Mariners started to gain some control on the game.
Former Birtley player Barrie Smith collected the ball on the right flank, but his cross was deflected behind for a corner.
Chris Feasey sent the corner towards the back post where it was met by Lee Maitland, but he was unable to direct his header towards goal, and the danger was cleared.
A second corner a minute later, again taken by Feasey, found Smith in space, but his shot flew over the bar.
On 20 minutes, Alex Kempster chased down a clearance by Shields keeper Steven Hubery, only to be denied by the reflexes of Mark Fish in the Birtley goal.
Shields went close to opening the scoring on 25 minutes. A long throw by Ben Riding was punched clear by Fish but only as far as Feasey, and he chipped goalwards, only to see the ball clear the bar by inches, landing on top of the net.
From the resulting goal kick, Fish launched the ball into the Shields half for Chris Mordue and he fired the ball towards the Shields goal.
Fortunately for the hosts, Chris Locke was well positioned to head over the bar for a Birtley corner.
The set piece was fired into the box by Mordue, and Joe Gill headed towards goal, but Hubery made a comfortable save to keep the scores level.
On the half hour, Birtley went close to opening the scoring as Josh Harker grazed the top of the bar with a shot from the edge of the box.
Shields again began to dominate possession, and Locke broke down the right flank before finding Chris Rue on the edge of the box, but he sent his header wide of the post.
Within a minute, Shields broke the deadlock. A long ball out of defence was picked up by Smith on the edge of the box, and he turned away from his marker before firing a shot at goal that was blocked.
However, the ball fell for Ramsey, and he made no mistake, firing beyond the reach of Fish.
In added time at the end of the first half, Kempster broke down the left flank and beat his man before driving the ball towards goal, only to be denied as it was tipped around the post for a corner.
The corner was cleared, and the sides went into the break with the Mariners a goal to the good.
At the start of the second half, Smith again caused problems for the Birtley defence; first he fired a 25 yard shot towards goal that was well saved by Fish, and then a cross for Kempster that he fired just wide of the post.
Shields continued to press forward, with Feasey tormenting the Birtley defence on the right, and on 52 minutes he fired the ball into the box towards Maitland, but again he headed wide.
On the hour, Feasey again broke down the flank and turned away from his marker before darting along the by-line and finding Smith, but again he saw his shot blocked by the Birtley defence.
A minute later and again Feasey caused problems for the visitors’ defence; he brushed aside two challenges before firing the ball at goal, only to be denied a defender who hacked the ball clear.
At the midpoint of the second half, a clearance by Riding was collected by Feasey in space on the left, and again he raced towards goal, only to be denied by a superb last ditch tackle by former Mariner Matty Soulsby.
A double save by Shields keeper Hubery maintained the advantage; first he parried a shot by Callum Boakes before he tipped an Adam Ward effort around the post.
With 20 minutes remaining, Shields manager Jon King made his first change of the game as Nicky Evans replaced Kempster.
Birtley again went close to restoring parity following the award of a free-kick 25 yards from goal. Soulsby curled the ball towards the top corner, but a superb fingertip save by Hubery ensured Shields held onto their slender advantage.
As the clock approached the 75th minute, King made his second change as Feasey took a well-earned rest to be replaced by James Talbot.
Talbot was quickly in the thick of the action as he took over where Feasey left off, tormenting the Birtley defence on the left flank.
Both sides were reduced to 10 men following an altercation on 82 minutes that saw Chris Renshaw and Joe Gill shown the red card.
In the final minutes, Ramsey almost doubled the Shields advantage, but again he was denied by a fine save by Fish.
In added time, Hubery again came to the rescue of the Mariners as he made a superb diving save at the feet of Ward as the hosts held on to secure the points.
Great win for @SouthShieldsFC this afternoon
— Adam Baker (@Adam_baker1490) April 11, 2015
SOUTH SHIELDS: Hubery, Locke (c), Riding, Renshaw, Burn, Maitland, Rue, Kempster (N Evans 70), Ramsey, Smith, Feasey (Talbot 75). Sub not used: Baker.
Goal: Ramsey (35).
Sent off: Renshaw (82).
BIRTLEY TOWN: Fish, Jack Watchman, M Hall, Harker, Best, Gill (c), Mordue, Soulsby, Peacock, Mitchell, Ward. Subs (from): Nicholson, C Boakes.
Sent off: Gill (82).