South Shields 1-3 North Shields
By Philip Reay
In the proverbial game of two halves, South Shields went down 3-1 at Eden Lane against newly crowned league champions North Shields on Saturday.
The visitors started the game on the front foot, and inside the first 10 minutes had two opportunities to take the lead.
On five minutes, Dean Holmes collected the ball on the left, but his shot was well saved by stand-in keeper Colin White, and then on 1o minutes Keiran Wrightson collected a long ball over the defence, but fired his shot high over the bar.
South Shields then began to assert themselves on the game, and on 12 minutes a long throw by Ben Riding eventually fell to Adam Burnicle, and he fired the ball past former Mariners shot-stopper Tom Courtney to give the home side the advantage.
As the game approached the 20th minute, South Shields went close to doubling their advantage.
Burnicle outpaced the defence on the right flank and sent a cross into the path of Stephen Ramsey, but the Shields skipper saw his shot tipped round the post.
From the resulting corner, Chris Feasey found Riding in space, but his header was well saved by Courtney.
South Shields maintained the pressure on the visitors’ goal, and a minute later another Feasey corner caused problems for the North Shields defence, but this time Luke Richardson was denied as his header was hacked off the line by Kevin Hughes.
On the half hour, North Shields broke forward, but Dean Walker’s shot was blocked by Riding, who again cleared the danger as he headed the resulting corner clear.
This was to be brief respite for the North Shields defence as again South Shields pressed forward.
From a free-kick on the right angle of the box, Feasey found Shaun Smith in space at the back post, but his header flew just over the bar.
South Shields continued to press forward, and on 35 minutes Feasey fired a shot at goal from the edge of the box that was blocked by Parker, and the danger was cleared.
On 40 minutes, a long throw from Riding was met by Richardson, but his shot was deflected for a corner, from which Feasey found Riding in space, but he headed wide.
In the closing minutes of the half, Richardson collected the ball on the edge of the box, but he was unable to trouble the keeper as his shot flew wide of the post.
At the start of the second half, South Shields again started on the front foot.
Burnicle turned past his marker before playing the ball into the path of Richardson, but again he fired his shot wide of the post.
Then inside a minute, South Shields pressed the self destruct button as the visitors scored twice in quick succession.
Walker collected a long ball over the Shields defence, and his shot was deflected over the head of White.
From the restart, North Shields won the ball and Dean Holmes beat the Shields defence before firing the visitors into the lead with a drive into the corner of the net beyond the despairing dive of White.
On the hour, South Shields went close to restoring parity.
A Feasey corner was headed towards goal by Ramsey, but again the striker was denied as his shot was turned round the post by Courtney in the North Shields goal.
The visitors went further ahead on 65 minutes as Walker collected a ball from Stuart Donnison, and he fired through a group of players and beyond White to make it 3-1.
South Shields responded instantly, but their only reward was a series of corners that were comfortably dealt with by the North Shields defence.
On 75 minutes, second half substitute Paul Greenwell fired a free-kick into the North Shields box for Riding, but his header was well saved by Courtney.
South Shields continued to press, looking for a way back into the game, and they created three chances in quick succession.
First Richardson fired wide from the edge of the box, followed by Burnicle firing a shot at goal that was tipped round the post for a corner, and from that Riding headed wide from close range.
South Shields thought they had reduced the deficit on 82 minutes as Burnicle collected a ball over the North Shields defence before firing past Courtney, but the celebrations were short-lived as the assistant referee flagged for offside.
At the final whistle, South Shields were left ruing their missed opportunities as the visitors celebrated a return to the top flight as champions of Division Two.
South Shields are in action twice more this week: away to Heaton Stannington on Tuesday and Whickham on Thursday.