South Shields 1-1 Whickham
By Philip Reay
South Shields were looking to bounce back to winning ways against Whickham on Saturday following their loss in the Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup in midweek.
Manager Jon King had to make several changes to his squad due to work commitments, but at the end of a competitive game their reward was only a point.
South Shields started the game on the front foot and in the opening minutes Barrie Smith combined with Kyle Houshby before Houshby played a ball into the box for Stephen Ramsey, but his header hit the bar and the ball was cleared.
From the clearance John Martin collected the ball before releasing Steven Aiston, but his shot was well saved by Shields keeper Jak Wells.
On five minutes Smith and Houshby combined again, and again Houshby found Ramsey in space, but this time the striker was denied by a good save from John Mordey.
Shields continued to pressurise the Whickham defence and a long throw by Colin White was headed towards goal and cleared off the line by Anthony Falcon.
The long throw was proving to be a potent weapon and from the left flank a Ben Riding throw was headed just wide by Luke Olabode.
Shields then won a series of corners, but were unable to capitalise as the Whickham defence held firm.
As the first half reached the midpoint, the visitors attacked down the right flank as Aiston outpaced the defence before crossing for Falcon, but he was unable to trouble the Shields keeper as he fired his shot over the bar.
On the half hour, the Shields players felt they should have been awarded a penalty following what appeared to be a handball, but their appeal was turned down.
Within five minutes they were awarded a penalty. Riding raced into the Whickham box but his progress was halted as he was tripped by a defender; Craig Watson stepped forward to fire the ball into the bottom corner of the net to give Shields a deserved advantage.
From the restart, the Mariners regained possession and a Ramsey shot was deflected for a corner; Watson fired the ball into the box and Riding rose above the defence, but his header flew just over the bar.
In the last play of the first half a misdirected back pass went out for a Whickham corner. Sam Macintosh sent the ball into the box where it was met by John Martin, and he headed in to take the sides into the break all square at 1-1.
At the start of the second half Whickham looked the brighter of the sides but poor finishing prevented them from capitalising on their possession as Peareth, Aiston and Thirkell all spurned good chances.
On the hour Shields won a corner on the right that was fired into the box by Watson, but when Ramsey headed the ball towards the top corner of the goal, a superb save by Mordey denied him.
From the resulting corner the ball fell to Adam Burnicle, but he hit his shot straight into the arms of Mordey.
Whickham again began to pressurise the Shields defence, winning a series of corners that were fired into the box by Macintosh, but again Thirkell and Falcon were unable to trouble Shields keeper Wells.
On 70 minutes following a scramble in the Shields box the ball again fell to Falcon, but with the goal at his mercy he fired over the bar.
In the closing stages of the game the hosts again pressed forward and on 83 minutes a corner by Watson was fired into the box and Sean Sweeney headed it towards goal, but with the keeper beaten the ball was hacked off the line and the danger cleared.
Shields’ last foray forward in the game saw Sweeney combine with Smith, but his shot flew over the bar.
In added time the Mariners presented Whickham with an opportunity to claim all three points following a foul on the edge of the box, but Macintosh wasted the opportunity as he fired his shot into the defensive wall and the danger was cleared.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Jak Wells, Chris Locke, Luke Olabode (Sean Sweeney 61 mins), Colin White, Ben Riding, Craig Watson, Kyle Houshby (Chris Feasey 71 mins), Barrie Smith, Stephen Ramsey, Adam Burnicle, Tony Coe (Michael Young 79 mins). Subs not used: Jordan Fraser, Luke Richardson.
Goals: Watson (pen 35).