South Shields 1-0 North Shields
By Daniel Prince
Warren Byrne struck a superb winner as South Shields beat FA Vase champions North Shields in a fiercely-contested River Tyne derby at Mariners Park on Wednesday.
Byrne notched his first goal for the club 19 minutes in, and although North Shields tried valiantly to get back on level terms, they could not get past a stubborn Mariners team who produced their best performance of pre-season so far.
The friendly was played in front of another fine crowd at Mariners Park, with 553 present for what always looked likely to be an exciting encounter.
South Shields started on the front foot, with Jonny Wightman advancing well down the left, but his shot was blocked.
At the other end, Lewis Galpin did superbly to snuff out an attack, while Denver Morris spurned a great chance to put the Robins ahead when he turned over a shot from six yards after a cross from Gary Ormston.
The deadlock was broken out of the blue by Byrne in the 19th minute.
After collecting the ball with his back to goal on the inside-right of the box, he turned, beat two defenders and rifled an effort into the roof of the net as he opened his account for the Mariners in style.
He almost doubled his tally six minutes later when Lee McMahon found him with a cross from the left, but his header just did not have enough to beat Chris Bannon in the North Shields goal.
At this stage, the Mariners were well on top, and Galpin was the next to go close after his header from Adam Curry’s corner was cleared off the line.
Towards the end of the first half, North Shields started to show their credentials, and Jack Walker created a chance with a cross from the right, only for Curtis Coppen to turn it over.
Five minutes before the break, John Grey curled a free-kick not far over, while Morris hit the outside of the post after being played in on the left of the box.
On the stroke of half-time, a powerful free-kick from Ben Richardson went not far past the post, but the Mariners were able to take a one-goal advantage into the break against their Ebac Northern League Division One neighbours.
Opportunities were few and far between at the beginning of the second half, but the first half-chance fell to South Shields when Gilberto Chapim’s chipped cross from the right just evaded Wightman.
At the other end, a ball was played over the top for Gareth Bainbridge to run onto, but he was unable to beat Gareth Young in a one-on-one as the South Shields substitute kept out the low effort.
North Shields were entering their best spell of the match, and David Coulson headed not far wide for the visitors from a corner, while Galpin later diverted the ball against his own post after a cross by Walker.
The hosts got through that difficult period, but they did have one more scare in what turned out to be the last action of the game.
North Shields maintained the pressure a minute into stoppage time, and the ball was played to Dean Walker on the inside left of the box. He cut inside his man and curled a shot which was destined for the opposite bottom corner before Young dived full-length and tipped the ball wide.
Once the Mariners cleared the corner, the referee blew the final whistle, with South Shields left to reflect on a second pre-season win against a Division One side.
Their next opponents will be from the Wearside League, with the Mariners travelling to Horden on Friday for a 7.30pm kick-off.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Beal (Young 46), Smith, Curry (Gray 51), Galpin, Turner, Chapim, Sakr (Kempster 89), McMahon, Byrne (Melvin 70), Scott (Kane 83), Wightman.
Goal: Byrne (19).
NORTH SHIELDS: Bannon, J Walker, Grey, Coppen, Parker, Hughes (c), Morris, Richardson, Bainbridge, Ormston, Carr. Subs (from): Coulson, Forster, Luccock, D Walker, McKeown.