South Shields 2-4 Ryton & Crawcrook Albion
By Philip Reay
South Shields lost their final game of the season 4-2 against Ryton & Crawcrook Albion on Saturday, a result that preserved Ryton’s Northern League status and relegated Esh Winning.
The opening minutes of the game were very nervy, with neither side able to stamp their authority.
The first scoring opportunity for the home side came on 22 minutes as Chris Feasey outpaced the defence before delivering a cross to Stephen Ramsey, but the striker saw his header well saved by the Ryton keeper Kevin Quigley.
Shields maintained the pressure on the visitors’ defence, and once again Quigley came to their rescue, saving from Richie Logan.
Against the run of play, Ryton opened the scoring on 25 minutes as keeper Simon Parkin was unable to hold onto a Scott Gunn shot and the ball trickled over the line.
On the half hour, Shields went close to restoring parity as a long throw by Colin White found Ramsey inside the box, but his header flew just wide of the post.
Minutes later another long throw, this time from Ben Riding, caused problems for the visitors’ defence, and with the keeper beaten, only a goal-line clearance by Leigh Shickle prevented Logan from drawing Shields level.
In the last action of the first half, Luke Richardson fired his shot wide of the post as the visitors went in at the break a goal to the good.
At the start of the second half, Adam Sharp found Ramsey in space inside the Ryton box, but he fired the ball straight into the arms of the keeper.
The Ryton side were unable to break out of defence as Shields piled on the pressure, but chance after chance went begging as the relegation-threatened side defended for all they were worth.
The Shields pressure eventually brought reward on 65 minutes. A White long throw eventually fell to Logan on the edge of the box, and he drove the ball into the roof of the net to restore parity.
Shields thought they had taken the lead on 70 minutes. Shaun Smith broke down the left flank before crossing the ball for Ramsey, and he headed the ball past the keeper, but his celebrations were cut short as the assistant referee signalled for offside.
With 10 minutes remaining, Ryton broke forward and Josh Holland fired in from the edge of box to restore the visitors’ advantage.
From the restart, the Shields defence were caught napping and Gunn was able to double the advantage.
Shields pulled a goal back within minutes as Shaun Smith fired in from close range.
But once again the Mariners defence were caught napping as Dean Sinclair fired in to secure the points for Ryton and start their celebrations as they retained their Northern League status.