David Foley’s first half goal was enough to return South Shields to winning ways as they beat 10-man Gainsborough Trinity 1-0 at Mariners Park on Saturday.
Shields had to battle for the three points against an impressive Gainsborough side who did not let the 33rd-minute dismissal of forward Ross Hannah affect them too much.
Foley put the Mariners in front two minutes into first half stoppage time and despite a good challenge from the visitors in the second half, Shields saw the game out with a professional performance as they climbed to sixth in the Evo-Stik Premier Division table.
The Mariners had an inauspicious start as Gainsborough made some early inroads.
The closest the came was when Alex Byrne got in down the left and fired a low effort which Liam Connell did well to push to safety.
Ben Gordon whistled another shot over from distance as the visitors flashed Shields some warnings of their quality.
Shields soon found their feet, though, and looked the more threatening side the longer the first half went on.
Josh Gillies curled a free-kick into the side netting as the hosts pushed for a breakthrough.
Their task was helped in the 33rd minute when Hannah was given his marching orders for a lunging challenge on Gillies on the right touchline.
Gainsborough’s players were incensed by the decision but showed impressive grit in the remainder of the match as they set up to frustrate the Mariners.
Shields built some momentum at the back end of the first half and almost had the lead when Craig Baxter’s powerful effort from 20 yards was tipped over by goalkeeper Jon Stewart.
Two minutes into stoppage time, the deadlock was broken as Robert Briggs beat the defence with a fine pass and Foley got to the ball before Stewart, taking it around him before finishing from a tight angle.
Gainsborough stuck to their gameplan in the second half and ensured they remained in contention.
They almost levelled things up on 57 minutes when Neil Austin whipped in a superb shot from the left which Connell did well to tip onto the crossbar.
Shields remained patient and kept the ball relatively well to ensure the visitors did not have any further clear-cut opportunities.
Foley was unfortunate not to add a second when he found the net after a Carl Finnigan effort was parried to him, and the assistant referee’s flag went up for offside.
The Mariners had a number of further attempts at goal in the closing stages but were unable to find a second goal which would have made the three points safe.
Their solidity across the pitch ensured another goal was not required.
Shields host West Auckland Tunns on Tuesday in the Durham Challenge Cup as they aim to build some momentum.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Adams, Shaw (c), Morse, Turnbull, Mouanda, Briggs, Finnigan (Harmison 68), Gillies (Wright 90+5), Foley (Mason 81). Subs not used: Brown, Lough.
Goal: Foley (45+2).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.