South Shields 1-1 Brandon United
By Daniel Prince
South Shields were unable to make their pressure count as Brandon United struck late on to take a 1-1 draw at Peterlee.
The Mariners held the lead from the fourth minute, but despite dominating possession and having much the better of the chances, could not finish off their visitors.
Brandon got their leveller 10 minutes from the end to ensure they jumped up a place to 19th in Northern League Division Two.
It looked like Shields were on course for a comfortable victory when they took the lead with the first attack of the game.
Chris Feasey – who had a very impressive first half – put in an excellent cross from the left, and Brandon defender Jordan Hilder sliced the ball into his own net four minutes in.
Elliot Cutts had a sight of goal four minutes later, but his volley from just outside the box went into orbit after Brandon’s defence had initially cleared a Ben Riding long throw.
The Mariners had to stay alert at the other end, and David Harrison’s crisp, low effort was parried by Simon Parkin, who got up to hold onto it.
Shields were having the much better of it, though, and Shaun Smith saw a low effort turned behind by visiting goalkeeper Christopher Sawyer in the 16th minute.
Sawyer made another decent save to stop Luke Richardson’s deflected effort after the Shields midfielder had been found by Smith.
Feasey’s resulting corner was headed over by Adam Sharp, while at the other end Harrison again went close when his 25-yard effort whistled just wide.
It was Shields creating most of the chances, and Feasey conjured another opportunity for himself on 31 minutes when he cut inside on the left, and his shot went not far wide of the opposite post.
Brandon were dangerous on the counter, though, and Harrison again had an opportunity in the 33rd minute, but Parkin did well to hold onto his shot.
Shields should have made it 2-0 on 36 minutes, but Luke Richardson could not take his golden chance.
The ball was played to him in front of goal, but he could only poke the ball straight at Sawyer when he seemed certain to score.
Mark Brischuk sent an effort over at the other end, while a Brandon corner was headed just wide on the stroke of half-time.
Shields continued to have the better of things after the break, and Feasey’s terrific cross from the left eight minutes into the second half almost led to their second goal.
The ball found Smith at the back post, but his powerful header across goal was excellently tipped away by Sawyer.
Feasey – who was brought off on 58 minutes – wriggled free just outside the box on the left shortly after, and fired his shot not far over.
His replacement, Kyle Houshby, also provided a threat, and fired a shot in at the near post on 67 minutes that Sawyer did well to palm wide.
Shields went so close to making it 2-0 two minutes later, but Richardson’s smashed cross-shot from the right hammered off the underside of the bar and bounced away to safety.
There was always a fear that Brandon would hit the Mariners by a sucker punch, but Houshby almost killed the game off on 77 minutes.
However, his powerful effort on the left was deflected over by Herron Lewis, who was later to have a major impact at the other end.
Riding headed a Richardson corner wide before Brandon did get their equaliser against the run of play.
A ball over the top from deep on the right was sliced goalwards by Lewis and fell onto the head of Brischuk, who nodded it past Parkin and into the corner with 10 minutes remaining.
A long range volley from the visitors went just over shortly after the goal, before Shields went so close to regaining their lead on 83 minutes.
Substitute Barrie Smith got through on the right, and his shot was spilled by Sawyer, who ultimately did well to stop Stephen Ramsey, who was sliding in for the rebound.
The Mariners found themselves under pressure in the closing stages, and Riding almost scored an own goal on 90 minutes when his backward header from a free-kick went just over.
Parkin dropped the resulting corner, but James Paylor’s effort was blocked by Shields and cleared to safety.
The Mariners had to clear a last-gasp in-swinging corner to come away with a point from a game they should have had wrapped up.
They finish their season on Saturday when they host Ryton & Crawcrook Albion in a game that will see the visitors relegated unless they pick up three points.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Parkin, Locke, Riding, Rowe, Davidson (Foster 68), Cutts, Richardson, Sharp, Ramsey (c), S Smith (B Smith 58), Feasey (Houshby 58). Subs not used: Berhan, Greenwell.
Goal: Hilder own goal (4).