South Shields 2-2 Southport: Brilliant Mariners denied win but replay beckons
A late equaliser denied South Shields a superb Buildbase FA Trophy first round win over National League North side Southport at Mariners Park.
After going in at half-time a goal behind, a pulsating second half performance from the Mariners put them 2-1 ahead.
Gary Brown equalised before Jason Gilchrist netted what looked like it might be the winner against his former club.
Southport hit back with an equaliser from substitute Raul Correia, though, meaning the teams will have to do it all again in a replay at Haig Avenue on Tuesday.
The suspended Nathan Lowe was replaced in the Shields line-up by teenager Arron Thompson in the only change made by Lee Picton and Graham Fenton to the team which drew 1-1 with Warrington Town in the league a week earlier.
They started on the front foot against a Southport side which sits fourth in the National League North.
Gilchrist fired a dangerous low ball across the area from the left which narrowly evaded a touch and a lob from Robert Briggs just failed to clear visiting goalkeeper Charlie Albinson.
The Sandgrounders did not threaten the Shields goal before taking the lead against the run of play on 14 minutes.
It was a clinical moment from the away side as Bradley Bauress peeled off into some space on the left and delivered a terrific cross which Jack Sampson powerfully headed past Myles Boney.
Shields regrouped and had an opportunity to equalise 10 minutes later when Briggs found Gilchrist on the right of the area and he drilled an effort wide.
At the other end, Boney made a smart stop from Sampson, who also had a shot deflected wide as Southport looked to double their advantage.
The score remained unchanged heading into half-time, after which the Mariners cranked up their performance and applied consistent pressure on their opponents.
Gilchrist had a header saved after a good link-up with Jon Shaw and Brown had an effort kept out by Albinson after he got on the end of a Briggs free-kick.
Thompson struck over from distance as Shields continued to press, and they got their reward in the 66th minute when a deft cross from Phil Turnbull was met by Craig Baxter and saved by Albinson before Brown rammed home the rebound after responding quickly.
The Mariners sensed blood and just seven minutes later found themselves in front when Turnbull fed a superb ball through to Gilchrist on the right of the box and he finished coolly with a dink as he netted the goal he had been threatening.
At that stage there appeared only one winner but the withdrawal of Brown with a dead leg unsettled Shields somewhat, despite his replacement Will Jenkins making an impressive contribution.
Captain David Morgan could have equalised with 10 minutes left for Southport but fired wide from 12 yards.
The visitors did draw level soon after, though, when Shields failed to clear a corner and after a short scramble substitute Raul Correia slammed the ball home.
There were chances at both ends for a winner, with superb blocks denying Gilchrist and Millenic Alli for the Mariners, and Boney producing an excellent save as he pushed a header onto the bar.
The final whistle signalled the end of a thrilling cup tie and the teams will now have to do it all again on Tuesday, with Southport this time enjoying home advantage.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Boney, Hunter, Charlton (Alli 56), Turnbull, Morse, Brown (Jenkins 77), Thompson, Baxter, Gilchrist, Briggs (Mason 71), Shaw (c). Subs not used: Coombe, Wade, Odelusi, Hodgson.
Goals: Brown (66), Gilchrist (73).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.