South Shields 1-3 Scarborough Athletic: Mariners start 2018 with defeat
South Shields suffered a rare home defeat as promotion rivals Scarborough Athletic impressed on their way to a 3-1 win at Mariners Park on New Year’s Day.
The Mariners were dealt their first home league loss since November 2016 as they were overtaken at the top of the Evo-Stik North Division.
Shields convincingly won twice at Scarborough’s Flamingo Land Stadium earlier in the season, but Boro got their revenge in this top of the table clash.
Their victory came despite a decent start from the Mariners, with Matty Pattison and Michael Richardson going close in the early stages.
Scarborough delivered a warning as to the quality they possess when Michael Coulson flashed an effort narrowly over in the 10th minute.
They improved from there, and almost opened the scoring when the ball broke to James Walshaw in an excellent position, but he was denied by a tremendous block from Jon Shaw.
Liam Connell did well to push a cross from David Merris over the bar before he conceded a penalty just after the half-hour mark after a loose Craig Baxter header was pounced on by Coulson.
Coulson stepped up to send Connell the wrong way from the spot as the visitors took the lead.
Both sides had half chances before Boro went two up six minutes before half-time as Nathan Valentine powerfully headed a Coulson set piece into the bottom corner.
Things almost went from bad to worse for the hosts when the ball again broke to Walshaw in the box, but this time his effort was deflected against the post as Shields breathed a sigh of relief.
The Mariners were brighter at the start of the second half, but suffered a body blow when Max Wright headed in a left wing cross from Lewis Sugden to put the Seadogs three ahead.
Shields battled for a way back into the game and almost pulled a goal back when substitute Carl Finnigan fired just past the post in the 63rd minute.
However, they struggled to break their visitors down, with Graeme Armstrong heading a decent chance over towards the end.
Shields did score a consolation in stoppage time thanks to a good control and finish from Jamie Holmes, but the damage was already done.
They are now second in the table, one point behind new leaders Prescot Cables and level on points with Scarborough.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Lough, Shaw, Morse, Arca (c), Smith (Finnigan 46), Pattison, Cogdon, Richardson (Armstrong 58), Holmes. Subs not used: Storey, Callaghan, Nicholson.
Goal: Holmes (90+2).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.