South Shields 3-7 Easington Colliery
By Daniel Prince
South Shields suffered a second half collapse as Easington Colliery claimed a thumping 7-3 victory in the Durham Challenge Cup on Tuesday.
It had all looked on course for Shields when they went in at half-time with a 3-1 lead at Peterlee thanks to Paul Kane’s fine hat-trick.
However, things started to unravel in the second half, and after Easington fought back to lead 4-3, the Mariners saw midfielders Lee Maitland and Barrie Smith dismissed.
After that, the away side became even more of a threat, and the final whistle was something of a relief for Shields.
The mood at full-time was a far cry from that after 20 minutes.
Shields had started in fine fettle, and Stephen Ramsey forced a decent save out of Kyle Donaldson early on.
Easington broke, and two blocks at the back from the Mariners ensured the scores remained level.
However, Shields were dominant, and got their noses in front in the eighth minute.
The in-form Kane – deployed up-front in the absence of David Molloy – struck a powerful effort from 25 yards into the bottom corner, with the help of a deflection.
Less than a minute later, Kane doubled his tally for the night with another fine finish.
After collecting the ball on the right, he beat his man, dribbled it into the penalty area and curled it left footed beyond the reach of Donaldson and into the other bottom corner.
Shields were rampant, and Chris Feasey almost made it three on 12 minutes when he connected with Alex Kempster’s cross, but his half-volley went just over.
Kane was in almost unplayable form, and went so close to completing a 15-minute hat-trick.
The striker chested the ball down 30 yards out before unleashing a stunning volley which beat the goalkeeper but crashed against the crossbar.
Four minutes later, Kane again hit the woodwork, with the Easington defence unable to live with him.
He was played in by Abu Salim and fired across goal, but saw his effort bounce out off the post. The rebound fell to Kempster, who could only screw wide.
There was only one side in it at that stage, but against the run of play, Easington got a foothold in the match 20 minutes in.
Shields gave the ball away at the back, and David Paul pounced to fire into the bottom corner.
A minute later, the dangerous Paul struck an effort over the bar as Easington sent their hosts some warning signs.
Brett Gillatt played Paul in again soon after, and this time he was denied by Simon Parkin in the Shields goal.
The game was more even at this stage, with Salim causing some problems for Easington on the right. A dangerous cross-shot from the winger was beaten away by Donaldson.
At the other end, though, Kyle Morris should have levelled the scores when a corner was flicked on to him in front of goal, but he could only loft the ball over.
Just after, there was a long break in play when Kempster was stretchered off with a knee injury and replaced by Adam Sharp.
When play resumed, Shields got on top again and Ramsey saw a shot saved by Donaldson.
Sharp also sliced wide after being found by Ramsey, while Barrie Smith spurned another decent opportunity when he was played in by Kane.
Shields deserved to go in at half-time with a two-goal advantage, and Kane ensured they did just that two minutes into stoppage time.
He latched on to Sharp’s looped ball over the top, chested the ball down, outpaced the defence and slotted past the goalkeeper to notch his 14th goal of the season for Shields, and his second hat-trick.
In the second half, everything changed.
Gillatt reduced the deficit to one within three minutes of the restart as he powered a shot into the bottom corner, and less than a minute later, the tie was level.
A cross from the left was looped into the air by Bryan Norton, and his effort beat Parkin and eventually bounced into the corner of the net.
Out of nowhere, Easington were level, and suddenly they were the side with all the momentum.
However, Shields almost went ahead again on 54 minutes.
Ramsey was played in by Salim, but Donaldson got out to smother his effort.
The ball broke free to Kane, but his shot across the ground was cleared off the line by Christopher Pearson.
Easington broke down the pitch and scored themselves to move into the lead for the first time in the match.
James Page got free of the Shields defence on the right, and beat Parkin with a crisp effort.
Things had unravelled for Shields, who had conceded three goals in six minutes – a blow they would never recover from.
Maitland’s dismissal on 55 minutes made their task even harder, with the midfielder given his marching orders after an off the ball incident.
Shields remained determined to battle on, with Salim and Feasey both seeing shots blocked as they tried to rally.
On 64 minutes, a low cross from Kane just evaded Ramsey, with Donaldson able to scoop up the ball.
The sending off of Shields captain Smith a minute later all but ended the home side’s chances of progression in the competition.
Smith kicked out at Easington player Michael Watson and was shown a straight red card, and from then it was always going to be an uphill battle for the Mariners.
Parkin had to make a number of saves to keep the score down, before Shields produced a great chance to level the scores.
A free-kick was lofted over the top to Aron Burn, who found himself unmarked in front of goal, but he could only volley wide.
His powerful, low effort from 25 yards went through a sea of bodies and got past Parkin.
Shields were still able to produce the odd opportunity, with Salim in particular continuing to threaten.
He burst his way through a number of challenges on the left, but was ultimately denied by Donaldson after working his way into the box.
With 12 minutes left, Easington were awarded a penalty when Chris Locke brought down an attacker in the area.
Paul stepped up to slot home and complete his hat-trick, and at that point the visitors sensed an opportunity to fill their boots.
There would be just one more goal for them, though, which was provided by Morris in the last minute of normal time as he slotted past Parkin after a cross from the right.
It brought an end to a desperately disappointing night for Shields, who had conceded six goals without reply in the second half and picked up two more damaging red cards.
They will hope to move on from the result quickly, and will have an opportunity to bounce back on Saturday when they travel to Alnwick Town in Ebac Northern League Division Two.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Parkin, Talbot, Feasey (Evans 87), Burn, Locke, Maitland, Kempster (Sharp 34), Smith (c), Ramsey (Graham 87), Kane, Salim. Sub not used: Stephenson.
Goals: Kane (8, 9, 45+2).
Booked: Locke, Talbot.
Red cards: Maitland (55), Smith (65).
EASINGTON COLLIERY: Donaldson, Smith, J Page, Pearson (c), Drysdale, Watson, Norton, L Page, Paul, Morris, Gillatt. Subs (from): Adams, Beeston, Martin, Pattison, Wintrip.
Goals: Paul (20, 76, pen 78), Gillatt (48), Norton (49), J Page (54), Morris (90).