South Shields 1-2 Witton Albion: Late double dents Mariners
Witton Albion scored two late goals to end South Shields’ four-match winning run in the BetVictor Northern Premier Division with a 2-1 victory at Mariners Park.
Sefton Gonzales’ brilliant strike on the stroke of half-time had put the Mariners on course to retain their six-point lead at the top of the division.
But goals in the 90th and 93rd minutes from the visitors ensured that Shields’ advantage was cut to three points as Albion did the double over their opponents.
Shields made one change to the side which started the 2-1 victory at Lancaster City a week earlier, with Blair Adams replacing Craig Baxter at left-back.
They started on the front foot and had a sight of goal as early as the second minute as Jason Gilchrist pounced on a loose ball before chipping an effort over from 20 yards.
The Mariners went close again as Jordan Hunter drove inside from the right and fired a fierce effort narrowly over the crossbar.
The home side were not at their fluent best but in the first half they always looked the more likely team to break the deadlock.
Gilchrist almost provided the breakthrough in the 21st minute when he was found on the edge of the box before fizzing a low effort just past the post via a deflection.
Other than that, there was little in the way of goalmouth action in the remainder of the first half until Shields took the lead in eye-catching fashion on 45 minutes.
Gonzales received the ball with his back to goal on the left of the box before turning and unleashing a blockbuster of a strike which kissed the underside of the crossbar before nestling in the goal.
It was a reward for some impressive territorial play from the Mariners and they had a bright start to the second half, too, with Robert Briggs denied by a save from Chris Renshaw before the goalkeeper also did well to beat away a powerful effort by Nathan Lowe.
Renshaw also had to be alert to tip an Arron Thompson shot over the bar after the Shields midfielder’s well-hit strike from the edge of the box looked set to find the roof of the net.
The hosts appeared to lose their way after the hour mark as Witton began to make their mark on the game.
Their first attempt at an equaliser saw Danny Mitchley fire an effort which Baxter – introduced as a half-time substitute in place of Adams – did well to block.
From the resulting corner, Josh Wardle was found unmarked but could only send his effort over the bar.
Although Witton looked dangerous, Shields will have expected to see the game out heading into the closing stages after largely restricting them to deeper possession.
Myles Boney superbly held onto a shot from distance from James Foley which swirled in the air but just as the Mariners will have been thinking about the final whistle, a series of set-pieces put them under pressure.
The equaliser arrived in the 90th minute as a corner from the left was recycled before being played back into the box, where substitute Michael Monaghan fired a tremendous volley past Boney.
Albion were the team with the momentum and when they won another corner three minutes into stoppage time, Shields were on the back foot again.
The pressure told as the ball was delivered from the right and headed down to another substitute, Kyle Sambor, who rifled it home to earn his side the three points.
The Mariners are now three points clear of Basford United at the top and take a short break from league action on Tuesday when they travel to Dunston in the Integro Cup.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Boney, Hunter, Adams (Baxter 46), Shaw (c), Brown, Turnbull, Thompson (Ross 78), Briggs, Gilchrist, Lowe, Gonzales (Mason 65). Subs not used: Verstraaten, Gillies.
Goal: Gonzales (45).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.