South Shields 1-2 Alnwick
By Daniel Prince. Match sponsored by: Camping & Caravan Direct.
Alnwick Town came from behind to inflict a third straight defeat on South Shields at a windy Peterlee.
Shields took the lead when Michael Turner notched his first goal for the club, but the visitors equalised before half-time and then claimed the three points with a goal four minutes into the second half.
The Mariners had started the game on the front foot, with Paul Kane threatening with two long range efforts.
However, an injury to one of the linesmen halted the game on 12 minutes, and he was eventually replaced by Shields coach Dave Hall for a short period.
A member of the crowd – a former Conference referee – volunteered to run the line, and took over from Hall for the remainder of the match.
When the game settled back into action, Alnwick began to enjoy the better of the play as they created a number of opportunities.
Shields goalkeeper Niki Lawson produced a fine fingertip save on 18 minutes to keep out a bullet header from Adam Shanks, who had been found by Tony Brown’s corner.
A minute later, Shanks cut inside from the left and fired goalwards, but the wind caught hold of the ball and sent it swerving well wide.
Shanks was proving to be a thorn in Shields’ side, but he was not quite able to get on the scoresheet, with Lawson holding onto another effort from the forward on 22 minutes.
The Mariners took full advantage of those missed Alnwick opportunities when they went into the lead after a swift counter attack.
Chris Feasey picked the ball up on the right and dribbled through the centre before releasing the onrushing Turner on the inside-left of the box, and he swept an effort into the bottom corner.
It was a fine goal from Shields, but in truth, they struggled to take control of the game from there, with Alnwick again looking the more dangerous.
Shanks had a glorious chance to level the scores just before the half-hour mark after being played in through the centre by Jon Colley, but he rolled the ball past the post.
The visitors grabbed their equaliser on 41 minutes when Lawson parried a Kieran Hogg free-kick to the feet of Stephen Hogg, who converted the rebound.
Shields responded well to that setback, and could have gone ahead before the break.
First, a Ben Riding long throw caused problems before being slapped away by Alnwick goalkeeper Sean Straker, while later Kane drilled a shot from 25 yards that Straker got a strong hand to as he parried.
Alex Kempster squeezed in a cross from the right for Kane deep into first half stoppage time, but his effort was deflected over and the sides went in level at the break.
Turner could have grabbed his second of the day on 48 minutes after Alnwick failed to clear a free-kick, but Straker held his header.
The goal which would ultimately win Alnwick the game followed just a minute later.
The visitors got in behind the Shields defence on the left, and when the ball broke for Lawson, he tried to hack the ball clear. However, it appeared to strike Feasey before bouncing into the net, with confusion over whether it had also hit Shanks before going over the line.
Shields had much of the possession after that as they tried to force their way back into the game, but they struggled to create clear-cut opportunities.
Kane fired a shot which comfortably cleared the crossbar before Logan Powell – a member of the club’s Under-18 side – was introduced from the bench for his senior debut, while Brian Harrison also came on.
Barrie Smith looked the most likely Shields player to find a breakthrough as he produced a tireless display in midfield, and after being crowded out on the inside-right of the box, he still managed to get a shot away which Straker did well to save.
Turner smashed an effort which swerved well wide, while Aron Burn sent two headers over.
The closest Shields got to a leveller came seven minutes before the end. The ball bounced to Smith 30 yards out, and he chested it down before half-volleying it towards the top corner. The ball swerved in the air and the effort appeared to have Straker in trouble before he managed to claw it over the bar.
The Mariners’ last opportunity fell to Mark Catcheside, another debutant, but he volleyed well over at the back post after a long throw from Riding.
Alnwick saw out their victory, and moved above Shields into 15th in the Ebac Northern League Division Two table.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Lawson, Feasey (Powell 59), Turner, Burn, Renshaw, Riding (c), Smith, Fixot (Catcheside 39), Kane, Talbot, Kempster (Harrison 59). Sub not used: Hanlon.
Goal: Turner (22).
ALNWICK TOWN: Straker, Egen, Mbiavanga, Straughan, MacPherson, K Hogg, Riddell, Brown (c), Shanks, S Hogg, Colley. Subs (from): K Douglas, Schiavetta, Atwell.
Goals: S Hogg (41), Shanks (49).