South Shields 1-2 Whickham
By Daniel Prince. Match sponsored by: Ashley Timber Ltd
South Shields were unable to make the most of their possession as Whickham edged to a 2-1 win at Peterlee on Saturday.
The Mariners dominated much of the proceedings, but Whickham stayed strong at the back and held on for the three points in Ebac Northern League Division Two.
Shields suffered a double blow before kick-off, with assistant manager Lee Bell forced to go in goal after Jake Cunningham and Steven Hubery were unable to make the game due to work commitments.
Craig Roberts was then withdrawn from the starting line-up after suffering a dead leg in the warm-up.
The game got underway after a minute’s silence to mark remembrance weekend, and it was Roberts’ replacement, Dan Hall, who created the first chance.
He went on a great run on the left, but his eventual shot was tame and went straight into the hands of visiting goalkeeper John Mordey.
Whickham created a chance of their own on seven minutes, but Chad Collins volleyed over at the back post after Sean Best’s cross from the right.
A minute later, a left-wing cross found an off-balance Craig Cavanagh, who headed wide.
Shields were looking threatening themselves, with David Molloy playing particularly well up-front alongside the in-form Paul Kane.
Molloy produced some impressive hold-up play before sliding a pass into Abu Salim, who beat his man brilliantly before seeing his cross cut out.
Aron Burn did well to block a Collins shot, while Lee Maitland managed to avoid scoring an own-goal when a free-kick struck him before trickling towards his net. Maitland scrambled it clear.
On 20 minutes, Scott Swanston gave Whickham the lead.
Craig Rook’s corner from the right was punched back to him by Bell, and he then rolled in Swanston, who was able to slot home.
After falling behind, Shields started to dominate proceedings, and were unfortunate to go in a goal down at the break.
Molloy went close when he cut in from the left before firing a shot at goal which just cleared the crossbar.
The hosts went even closer a minute before the half-hour mark when Graham Stephenson’s cross was sliced narrowly over the bar by a defender, with Kane close by.
Eight minutes before the break, Stephenson attempted a shot on the right but mishit it and it went across the box. It eventually found Molloy, who just could not sort his feet out in time and sent it wide.
Whickham went down the field and went agonisingly close to making it 2-0 when a powerful, low cross from the left just missed Best, who slid in at the back post.
Molloy was crowded out and saw a shot blocked soon after, while Kane also had an effort blocked by John Martin.
With Shields increasing the pressure, Chris Locke had a 30-yard shot saved by Mordey after it swerved in the air.
Steven Aiston closed down a Bell clearance at the other end, with the ball cannoning off the striker before going across the box, with James Talbot eventually able to clear.
Shields came out strongly again in the second half. Hall played in Maitland, who beat his man brilliantly before shooting straight at Mordey from the edge of the box.
Bell denied Collins at the other end, before Molloy had a shot blocked after good play by Salim and Kane.
Whickham were getting their bodies in the way, with Molloy again denied by a block, but Talbot caused problems with two corners and Shields seemed to be on the verge of an equaliser.
Their goal finally arrived on 64 minutes through Kane, who smashed in his 17th goal for the Mariners this season.
Locke brought the ball into the opposition half before playing in Kane on the edge of the box. He used his strength to turn his man before firing a low shot which bounced just before reaching Mordey and had enough power to make the net bulge.
If Shields thought that would be the catalyst to go on and claim three points, though, they were to be left disappointed.
Mark Fitzpatrick made a good impression after coming on as a substitute for Whickham, and he sent a half-volley over from the edge of the box.
On 69 minutes, though, Fitzpatrick did get onto the scoresheet with a goal which later proved to be the winner.
A free-kick was rolled forward, and it eventually fell to Fitzpatrick, who had enough time to slot home.
Shields had most of the play after that, and Maitland sent an overhead kick not far wide within moments of the restart.
Only a last-ditch tackle denied Molloy soon after, while the Mariners went agonisingly close to getting back on level terms in the 73rd minute.
Molloy’s shot was parried by Mordey, who somehow picked himself up to keep out Maitland’s powerful rebound, which was destined to find the corner.
Bell did excellently to keep out Aiston’s chip at the other end, while Matthew Atkin fired wide for Whickham.
Shields huffed and puffed in the closing stages, and Kane went close with seven minutes left when his effort from 20 yards deflected off Kris Holmes before being diverted over the bar by Mordey with his trailing leg after the deflection wrong-footed him.
Mordey also held onto a Maitland long-range shot, while Talbot sent a header not far wide as Shields were left frustrated and left Eden Lane empty-handed.
They will look to get more points on the board next Saturday, when they travel to Birtley Town for a 3pm kick-off.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Bell, Stephenson, Hall, Burn, Locke (c), Smith, Talbot, Maitland, Molloy, Kane, Salim. Subs not used: Graham, Roberts.
Goal: Kane (64).
WHICKHAM: Mordey, Donaldson, Cavanagh, Nellis, Holmes, Martin (c), Best, Collins, Aiston, Swanston, Rook. Subs (from): Atkin, Fitzpatrick, Moulding, Peareth.
Goals: Swanston (20), Fitzpatrick (69).