South Shields 1-0 Tow Law Town
By Daniel Prince. Match sponsored by: Calor Gas
David Molloy grabbed the only goal of the game as South Shields progressed in the Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup with a victory over Tow Law Town on Tuesday.
Molloy struck on the hour to put the Mariners into the third round of the competition, although Shields goalkeeper Niki Lawson had to make a penalty save at the other end to ensure extra-time was avoided.
Christopher Rue came in to make his second debut for Shields after joining the club earlier in the day, and his experience helped Jon King’s side keep a clean sheet at Peterlee.
They had to be patient to get their goal, though, as a number of chances came and went before Molloy finally scored.
The first of those came just three minutes into the game, when Molloy had a powerful shot blocked before captain Chris Locke’s long range effort was held by visiting goalkeeper Stephen Kennedy.
Paul Kane perhaps should have put Shields ahead on 14 minutes when he was played in on the right by James Talbot, but his effort hit the outside of the post as Tow Law survived.
Steven Graham sent a low drive wide, while Graham Stephenson volleyed over as the hosts continued to pressurise their opponents.
Kane was next to go close, but his well-hit and low free-kick was well held by Kennedy, and the Shields striker had another chance soon after, but fired over from the edge of the box.
Kennedy did well to keep out another effort from Kane on 34 minutes when the Mariners’ top scorer cut in from the left before smashing goalwards, and after that Tow Law began to express themselves some more.
Scott Duggan played in Lewis Harrison on the right, but he sliced wide, while Duggan had a glorious chance soon after, but somehow sent his shot wide from in front of goal.
They were rare opportunities for Tow Law in a first half Shields dominated, and King’s men had three more golden chances before half-time.
A counter-attack eventually led to a Molloy shot which went wide, while Craig Roberts had a great dribble from the halfway line before perhaps shooting too early, with his effort easily saved by Kennedy.
A scuffed shot from Kane on the stroke of half-time broke for Roberts in the box, and he hit it just wide of the post as the sides went in level at the break.
Tow Law came out strongly in the second half, and Alistair Wilson almost gave them the lead on 47 minutes, but his shot went just over.
At the other end, Dan Hall found Kane, but he could not get clean contact on it, while Stephenson also had a glorious chance to put Shields ahead when he fired wide from Talbot’s cross.
Harrison curled a shot wide for the visitors before the Mariners finally got their breakthrough on 60 minutes.
A tremendous through ball by Hall split the Tow Law defence and met the run of Molloy, who touched it round the advancing Kennedy before calmly slotting home.
Gareth Ayers had a decent opportunity for the visitors soon after, but chipped a shot over, while the same player was again played in later, but sent his effort across goal wide.
Kane had a long-range shot which cleared the bar, before Tow Law had a huge opportunity to draw level when Lawson was penalised for a foul in the box with 16 minutes left.
However, Lawson went from zero to hero in a matter of moments as he picked himself up to keep out Scott Brassell’s central penalty with his legs.
Shields could have wrapped the game up on 81 minutes when Kane played in Molloy, but Kennedy did brilliantly to keep out the powerful shot with his body.
The resulting corner was cleared as far as Talbot, whose drive whistled past the post.
Kane had another shot well saved, but Tow Law did have two more golden opportunities to force extra-time as the clock ticked past 90.
Joe Grant rounded Lawson and his shot was destined for the net before Aron Burn cleared it off the line.
Moments later, Grant again had a glorious chance, but his lob went just past the post as Shields breathed a sigh of relief.
Kane was denied with another effort before the final whistle, but Shields had done enough to seal their victory as they marched into the next round – keeping a welcome clean sheet in the process.
They will hope to follow up the win on Saturday when they take on Ryton and Crawcrook Albion in Ebac Northern League Division Two at Peterlee. Kick-off is at 3pm.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Lawson, Rue, Stephenson (Reeves 55), Locke (c), Burn, Graham, Talbot, Hall, Kane, Molloy, Roberts. Subs not used: Bell, Hubery.
Goal: Molloy (60).
TOW LAW TOWN: Kennedy, Ryder, Wilson, Henderson (c), Greenwell, Brassell, Harrison, Grant, Ord, Duggan, Ayers. Sub (from): Anderson.