South Shields 2-4 Heaton Stannington
By Philip Reay
South Shields’ fine seven-game unbeaten run came to an end on Saturday when they were beaten 4-2 by Heaton Stannington at Peterlee.
The Mariners were dealt a body blow before kick-off as goalkeeper Brett Wilson failed to turn up, meaning assistant manager Lee Bell was forced to don the gloves.
Shields found themselves 2-0 down at half-time, and their task was made harder when Colin White was sent off for a second booking with the score at 3-0.
The visitors went 4-0 up before Shields stirred late on with goals from Chris Locke and captain Barrie Smith, as the home side ended the game on a better note ahead of Wednesday’s League Cup trip to Penrith.
The hosts had started the game on the front foot, and went close to opening the scoring on five minutes. A long throw from White caused problems for the visitors’ defence, and Michael Creswick headed the ball against his own crossbar.
Shields maintained the pressure, and David Molloy held the ball up before playing it into the path of Smith, but his shot was deflected by a defender and out for a corner.
As the game approached 10 minutes, a White free-kick found Aron Burn in space, but the Shields defender saw his header fly just over the crossbar.
Heaton’s first opportunity came with the game approaching the 20 minute mark. A Lee Johnson corner was headed towards goal, but Locke was on hand to head the ball off the line.
Shields responded instantly as Locke raced forward before crossing the ball to Stephen Ramsey, but the Shields striker headed the ball wide of the post.
The home side won consecutive corners, and from the second Chris Feasey found Ramsey and he headed the ball past Daniel Rule in the Heaton goal, only to be somewhat bizarrely ruled offside.
Andrew Robertson then shot wide for Heaton Stannington, while at the other end, Paul Kane curled an effort wide from 18 yards.
After 28 minutes, Heaton’s Andrew Weeks was booked for a late challenge on Smith.
Shields’ disallowed goal proved costly in the 36th minute as the visitors took the lead. With the Mariners switched off, Johnson curled a cross into the penalty area and the unmarked Creswick was there to head past makeshift keeper Bell.
Looking for an immediate response, Feasey did well to weave his way through four or five Heaton players before firing wide.
Five minutes after the first, Heaton doubled their advantage. Johnson played a simple pass into Ben Telford, and he made no mistake in slotting it past Bell.
Ramsey then found himself with the ball at his feet inside the penalty area, but several Heaton defenders worked together to take it from him.
Locke then put a deep cross into the Heaton penalty area which bounced out for a goal kick, and seconds before half-time, Lee Maitland came on for the injured Ramsey.
Three minutes into the second half, James Talbot came close to pulling one back for the Mariners. A ball in by Feasey fell to Talbot, who turned before shooting towards the bottom corner, forcing Rule to palm it behind for a corner.
Kane whipped the resulting corner into the penalty area, but it was headed clear by Gary McGarrigal.
Then, Heaton Stannington’s Creswick forced a save from Bell when he poked a shot goal bound from a tight angle.
In the 53rd minute, the away side extended their lead. Good play resulted in a perfectly timed flick on to Joseph Wear, who slotted home.
On the hour, things became even more difficult for the Mariners as White was shown a second yellow card.
Minutes later, Johnson had an opportunity to put the visitors four goals to the good as he intercepted a poor clearance by Bell. He chipped the ball over the advancing keeper, but he also cleared the bar.
With 20 minutes remaining, Shields were awarded a free-kick on the angle of the box. Smith curled the ball round the defensive wall, but straight into the arms of Rule.
Heaton further extended their advantage on 75 minutes. Johnson again latched onto a clearance from Bell, and as the keeper slipped, he lofted the ball into the net.
Shields weren’t giving up, and after 84 minutes they pulled a goal back. A Smith free-kick was lofted into the penalty area and headed down by Adam Sharp to Locke, who fired home from close range.
Deep into added time, Shields pulled a second goal back. A Smith delivery fell in the penalty area and was put behind for a corner. The resulting corner was fired towards goal by Kane, and Heaton keeper Rule punched the ball clear, but the referee spotted a foul inside the area and pointed to the penalty spot.
Smith stepped up and sent Rule the wrong way.
There was no time for any more action as the referee blew the final whistle immediately after the restart, and the unbeaten run came to an end.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Bell, Locke, Feasey (Halliday 69), White, Burn, Conroy (Sharp 65), Talbot, Smith (c), Ramsey (Maitland 44), Molloy, Kane. Subs not used: Stephenson, Pickering.
Goals: Locke (84), Smith (pen 90).
Sent off: White (60).