South Shields 2-1 Scarborough Athletic: Late Gilchrist penalty seals deserved victory
A stoppage time penalty from Jason Gilchrist moved South Shields three points clear at the top of the BetVictor Northern Premier Division with a hard-fought yet deserved 2-1 win over Scarborough Athletic at Mariners Park.
Shields came from behind to begin 2020 with a victory as a superb second half display earned them the spoils.
Michael Coulson’s early stunner had given a rejuvenated Seadogs side the lead and it took until five minutes into the second half for Gilchrist to bring the Mariners back on level terms.
He then took the responsibility of the spot-kick a minute into added time after he had been fouled in the box and sent impressive Scarborough goalkeeper Tommy Taylor the wrong way, to the delight of much of the crowd of almost 2,000.
Shields started the game brightly and went close twice in the early stages as Nathan Lowe struck a free-kick over and a low drive from Gilchrist was well held by Taylor.
But it was Scarborough who took the lead 12 minutes in when the ball was won high up the pitch on the right and Coulson brilliantly powered it into the top corner.
The visitors attempted to use the momentum of that opener to press ahead for further goals and went close to finding one as James Walshaw’s shot was well blocked by Jon Shaw.
There were half chances at both ends before Shields started to wrestle the initiative in the closing stages of the first half.
Lowe rifled an effort from 25 yards which Taylor did well to save and Lee Mason also had a shot blocked before Taylor saved from Craig Baxter as he got in behind on the left of the box.
Jordan Hunter also went close as he drilled wide from the edge of the area and more positive play saw Baxter again get in behind before pulling the ball across for Mason, who was denied an open goal by a brilliant clearance.
It took just five minutes into the second half for Shields to grab the equaliser they had been threatening as Hunter drilled a brilliant ball in from the right and it fell to Gilchrist, who turned well before forcing it home.
Shields pressurised Scarborough for much of the remainder of the game and went close a number of times, with a Briggs free-kick being deflected just over in the 55th minute.
At the other end, Coulson blasted a shot not far wide but Scarborough attacks were rare as the Mariners turned the screw.
The hosts introduced new signing Sefton Gonzales from the bench for his debut and he was a constant threat.
He went close twice within moments of coming on, first heading narrowly over before later pouncing on a loose backpass, only for Taylor to scramble the ball clear.
Lowe drilled not far wide from distance, Taylor denied Gilchrist with a superb fingertip save and Shaw had a cross deflected inches wide as Shields were frustrated in their search for a second goal.
Their chances were boosted with nine minutes left as Seadogs left-back Wayne Brooksby was sent off for two quickfire bookings, but it took until the 90th minute for the golden opportunity to arrive as a push on Gilchrist resulted in a penalty.
The Shields frontman stepped up to tuck the spot-kick away and deliver a vital three points for the home side.
The Mariners will look to move further clear at the top when they travel to Ashton United on Saturday.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Boney, Hunter, Baxter, Shaw (c), Brown, Turnbull, Thompson, Briggs (Jenkins 65), Gilchrist (Hodgson 90+2), Lowe, Mason (Gonzales 56). Subs not used: Charlton, Wade.
Goals: Gilchrist (50, pen 90+1).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.