South Shields 1-1 Buxton: Mariners held in blustery conditions
South Shields were held to a 1-1 draw by Buxton at Mariners Park in a wind-affected BetVictor Northern Premier Division match on Saturday.
Playing with the wind at their backs in the first half, Shields suffered an early blow when Warren Clarke fired Buxton ahead just six minutes in.
The Mariners slowly wrestled control and brought themselves back on level terms on the half-hour mark as Nathan Lowe’s angled effort found the corner of the net.
Shields battled against the wind after the break and put their visitors under pressure midway through the second half but were unable to find a breakthrough.
The Bucks held on for a point in a frantic end to the game as the Mariners’ lead at the top of the table was reduced to two points.
There had been doubts as to whether the match would go ahead, with two pitch inspections taking place before the referee ruled it was fit for play.
The wind played a major factor across the 90 minutes, though, and almost made its presence felt as early as the fifth minute when Robert Briggs’ effort from distance for Shields was caught by a gust before being well saved by Grant Shenton in the Buxton goal.
The Bucks took the lead in just the sixth minute when Clarke sprinted clear down the left and his composed finish across goal touched the inside of the post before nestling in the net.
Shields’ response was good and they twice went close to finding an equaliser as home debutant Dom McHale fired over from 20 yards before a Briggs free-kick was deflected past the post.
They almost fell further behind at the other end, though, when a corner from the left by Tom Elliott was blown goalwards and cannoned against the post, with Mariners goalkeeper Ryan Whitley scrambling across his goal.
Shields wrestled control after that and following a period of pressure they brought themselves level in the 30th minute when Lowe pounced on a loose ball and sent a controlled volley into the corner of the net.
The home side went close to taking the lead on the stroke of half-time as Lowe’s strike from distance hit team-mate McHale before trickling agonisingly the wrong side of the post.
The conditions were with the visitors in the second half and they fired the Mariners a warning within five minutes of the restart as Diego De Girolamo’s strike from the left of the box tested Whitley at his near post.
That proved to be a rare opportunity in the second 45 minutes for the Bucks, though, with Shields battling well against the wind.
Sefton Gonzales’ turn and shot was saved by Shenton at his near post, substitute Blair Adams slid a dangerous ball across the area which just evaded a touch and Gary Brown fired over from distance as the hosts increased the pressure.
They were convinced they should have had a penalty midway through the second half when Callum Ross’ effort from 20 yards was blocked by the arm of a defender, but their appeals were waved away.
Buxton had one golden chance for a winner but Whitley produced a fine save and several defenders put their bodies on the line to block shots before Callum Chippendale curled wide from 25 yards.
Gonzales tested Shenton again before the end and Shields were inches away from sealing the three points a minute into stoppage time as Josh Gillies’ free-kick found the head of Briggs and his effort went just past the post.
There was one final opportunity when Gillies got in behind on the right of the box and tried to square to Jason Gilchrist, but Shenton stretched out his arms to clutch the ball as Buxton held on for a point.
Shields are back in action next Saturday when they travel to Gainsborough Trinity in the league.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Whitley, Verstraaten (Adams 42), Baxter, Shaw (c), Brown (Turnbull 78), Ross, Lowe, Briggs, Gilchrist, McHale (Gillies 61), Gonzales. Subs not used: Boney, Hunter.
Goal: Lowe (30).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.