South Shields 1-0 Farsley Celtic: Drama as Morse nets last gasp winner
Dillon Morse created pandemonium at Mariners Park as his 93rd minute goal sealed a dramatic win for South Shields in the Top Two Showdown against Farsley Celtic.
Morse flicked home at the death to score the only goal of the game as Shields moved into an outright lead in the Evo-Stik Premier Division.
They were made to work all the way by Farsley in front of a tremendous crowd of more than 2,000 at Mariners Park, but just did enough to keep their 100% home record in the league intact.
The first half was a nervy affair which Farsley arguably edged, although they were unable to seriously trouble Liam Connell in the Shields goal.
Lee Picton and Graham Fenton opted to make no changes to the team which defeated Basford United 3-0 a week earlier, and it was Shields who had the first effort as Josh Gillies’ drive from the right of the box was palmed behind by visiting goalkeeper Kyle Trenerry.
The hosts then came under a period of pressure, with captain Jon Shaw blocking a shot by Luke Parkin before Connell got down well to tip a long-range effort from James Spencer wide.
There were numerous stoppages, with several Farsley players infuriating the home crowd with displays of gamesmanship, but Shields gradually got into their stride and had two decent opportunities to break the deadlock.
The first fell the way of the bright Lee Mason, whose strike from the edge of the box was deflected wide.
The resulting corner was over-hit by Gillies but retrieved by Shaw, who picked out Gary Brown on the left of the area. His effort hit the head of Morse, though, before bouncing over.
It was goalless at half-time but the tempo was raised immediately in the second half as both teams returned to the pitch with renewed purpose.
Morse blocked from Nathan Cartman as Farsley again showed their capabilities, while at the other end Craig Baxter fired wide after good interplay with Nathan Lowe.
Just before the hour mark came a dramatic minute which saw both defences breathe a sigh of relief.
Gillies was inches away from giving the Mariners the lead when his 20-yard effort cannoned against the foot of the post as he almost caught Trenerry out after being found by a sublime flick from Lowe.
The Villagers countered down the right and a ball into the box ricocheted to the left foot of Cartman, whose shot was destined to find the corner of the net before being brilliantly tipped wide by Connell.
It was one of the saves of the season and Connell was called into action again soon after, albeit his stop from Spencer was more routine.
Picton and Fenton responded by introducing Robert Briggs in place of Gary Brown, with Craig Baxter moved to right-back and Briggs slotting into midfield.
The game was much more open than it had been in the first half and with 15 minutes left, a header from Dave Syers was well saved by Connell.
Shields responded immediately and scampered up the other end. Baxter was played in on the right of the box but Trenerry was out quickly to close the angle and make a decent stop.
Trenerry made a similar save from Blair Adams after initially fumbling a low cross from the left, and as the match ticked into five minutes of stoppage time, it looked like the top two would not be separated.
That was until a moment that will live long in the memory of the majority of the 2,013 crowd.
Mason found Briggs and his sublime flicked pass played in Mason on the right of the box. He squared the ball for Morse and, although he initially struggled to get it under control, he had the presence of mind to backheel it over the line to send the home support into raptures.
It was Morse’s seventh goal of another memorable campaign and comfortably the most important.
There was still time for a final Farsley chance to take a point, but Connell denied Cartman and Shields survived.
It was another occasion at Mariners Park which will live long in the memory.
The Mariners are back in action on Tuesday when they travel to Sunderland RCA in the quarter-final of the Durham Challenge Cup.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Brown (Briggs 66), Adams, Shaw (c), Morse, Turnbull, Baxter, Lowe, Mason (Lough 90+5), Gillies, Foley (Cogdon 77). Subs not used: Mouanda, Harmison.
Goal: Morse (90+3).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.