South Shields 3-3 Spennymoor Town Reserves
By Daniel Prince
Long-serving striker Stephen Ramsey had a night to remember as his hat-trick helped South Shields to a 3-3 draw with Spennymoor Reserves at Peterlee.
The Mariners led 2-0 at half-time, but the visitors scored three second half goals in 10 minutes to turn the friendly on its head.
However, Ramsey was not to be denied, and he rescued a draw for Shields with five minutes remaining to cap a thoroughly entertaining game.
Jon King’s side started the game on the front foot, and took the lead in the 11th minute.
From the halfway line, the lively Kyle Houshby sent a ball over the top from the right, and Ramsey latched onto it.
He powered past the Spennymoor defence and slotted it in as he displayed the composure in front of goal he would later repeat twice in the game.
Spennymoor responded well to that setback, though, and could have been level within two minutes. However, the shot across goal from the edge of the box went narrowly over.
They came even closer to equalising on 16 minutes after Chris Locke was caught in possession at the back, but after cutting inside, the striker’s shot hit the post and bounced to safety.
He again missed a glorious chance within a minute after a ball through the middle, and at that time, Shields were clinging on to their advantage.
However, they grew again, with Ramsey leading the charge up front.
A lay-off to strike partner Damien Stevens on 25 minutes led to a shot over the top, and that seemed to spark the Mariners back into action.
Five minutes before half-time, David Molloy picked up the ball on the left of the box after industrious play from Barrie Smith in the centre of the park.
Molloy held onto the ball before unleashing a powerful shot which hit the underside of the bar before bouncing away.
It was a well-worked free-kick routine which saw Shields double their lead on 42 minutes, with Houshby claiming his second assist of the day and Ramsey his second goal.
Houshby shaped up as if to shoot, and his low effort was struck into the path of the onrushing Ramsey, who flicked it past the goalkeeper.
Spennymoor came out strongly after half-time, and could have pulled a goal back within a minute of the restart. However, a glancing header went just wide.
Shields had two decent opportunities to make it three, but first Smith – who made a surprise cameo appearance for Leyton Orient against Gateshead last week – saw an effort saved, and then Aron Burn’s header from a Houshby corner was cleared off the line.
Molloy had an effort deflected wide soon after, but Shields had to be alert at the other end, and were indebted to Burn on 57 minutes when he did brilliantly to force the striker wide and deny him a clean shot at goal.
Molloy again had a chance on 62 minutes, with the Spennymoor goalkeeper this time denying him, while Stevens could have put the game to bed five minutes later.
After a superb through ball by Molloy, Stevens skipped inside and looked set to score, but dragged his shot wide.
Spennymoor punished him within a minute when a low shot from 25 yards found its way into the bottom corner, with Reece Kenney the goalscorer.
On 73 minutes, the visitors were level when a cross from the right caused problems in the Shields defence, and Andrew Johnson pounced to slot into an empty net.
The remarkable turnaround was complete five minutes later as a 30 yard piledriver from Miller found its way into the top corner.
Shields were determined not to be beaten, though, and immediately set about restoring parity.
A ball over the top from goalkeeper Brett Wilson was pounced on by Molloy, and only a brilliant save by the foot of the goalkeeper denied him. Molloy headed a great chance wide within a minute.
Shields did get their leveller on 85 minutes, and Molloy was at the heart of it.
He pulled a ball back from the right, and played it perfectly into the path of Ramsey, who was not going to pass up the opportunity from in front of goal.
He placed it into the net to complete a successful night for him and an entertaining one all round.
Shields are next in action on Wednesday, when they take on Boldon CA in the Sam Bartram Memorial Cup.
South Shields team: Brett Wilson, Graham Stephenson, Chris Locke, Aron Burn, Colin White, Kyle Houshby, Andy Renton (Damien Stevens, 63) (Andy Renton, 76), Barrie Smith, David Molloy, Stephen Ramsey, Damien Stevens (Chris Feasey, 54).
Goals: Ramsey (11, 42, 85).