South Shields 5-3 Northallerton Town
By Daniel Prince
Ten-man South Shields pulled off a remarkable 5-3 win over Northallerton Town with a sensational performance at Peterlee on Tuesday.
Shields’ hopes of making it six wins in a row in all competitions appeared slim when Chris Feasey was sent off on 10 minutes, and Northallerton scored the resulting penalty.
However, they showed tremendous heart, spirit and endeavour as they three times battled back from losing positions to claim all three points from an incredible game.
There were also five different scorers, with Barrie Smith, David Molloy, Stephen Ramsey, Paul Kane and James Talbot’s strikes sparking wild scenes of celebration at Eden Lane as Shields went third in Ebac Northern League Division Two.
Brett Wilson returned to the Mariners team in goal in place of Steven Hubery, while Kane replaced David Conroy from the weekend win over Chester-le-Street Town.
Soon after, Feasey was given his marching orders after he was adjudged to have fouled McLachlan inside the area. The Shields man claimed it was not a foul, and that it was outside the box, but as he was the last man, he saw red.
Stuart Owen rifled in the penalty on his Northallerton debut by sending Wilson the wrong way, and at that point 10-man Shields knew they would have to dig extremely deep to get anything against the promotion hopefuls.
However, as they have done throughout the start to the campaign, the Mariners produced exactly the right response.
Kane sliced a shot over after a ball over the top, but it was at the back where Shields had to dig in.
First, goalkeeper Wilson did brilliantly to race out of his area and clear the danger, with Damon Reaks closing in on goal.
Reaks later sent a low shot wide for the visitors, while Chris Locke provided a superb block to stop Daniel Mellanby’s powerful drive.
Mellanby cut inside from the right on 23 minutes and rifled a shot not far past the post, and Shields were in need of some inspiration to get back on level terms. Captain Smith provided it.
He picked up the ball on the halfway line with 27 minutes gone, and there appeared to be little on. However, he carried the ball forward and beat his markers before lining up a shot just outside the box on the right. Smith then powered the ball into the bottom left corner with an unstoppable shot to bring his side level.
However, the parity did not last long.
Within three minutes, Northallerton had restored their lead through Mellanby, who was first to react and poked the ball home after Wilson had parried Aaron Ramsbottom’s strike.
From the restart, though, Shields again showed exactly what they were about, responding in the perfect way.
A ball over the top was flicked on by Ramsey to Molloy. He took the ball away from visiting goalkeeper Matthew Calvert before touching it round him and rolling it into the empty net to score his eighth goal of the season.
Northallerton substitute Benjamin Palmer could so easily have given his team the lead again before half-time, but after being found in the six-yard box, his shot was deflected wide.
Smith had another superb run on the stroke of half-time for Shields, and looked set to score a goal similar to his first before sending his shot past the post.
Five minutes into the second half, Ramsey’s header from a Talbot corner was blocked in front of goal, before the visitors went in the lead for a third time from the following attack.
A corner from the left from Owen went straight onto the head of the towering Palmer, who sent the ball back from where it came and into the roof of the net.
In the next minute, Ramsbottom smashed a shot off the bar from inside the box, while Kane’s shot at the other end was well held by Calvert.
The game had been entertaining throughout, and its end-to-end nature continued to excite the fans.
Smith was denied a second excellent goal of the night by the width of the post on 63 minutes. After picking up the ball on the left, he drove inside before powering a shot towards goal that went inches wide.
Molloy’s effort from range was saved by Calvert, while Steven Graham was needed at the other end to block Ramsbottom’s goal-bound drive.
The game was destined to have more goals, and Ramsey provided the next one on 69 minutes.
Smith drilled a free-kick from the left into the box, and Ramsey did superbly to glance the ball on with his head into the bottom corner.
The momentum was all with the Mariners again after pegging Northallerton back for a third time, and on 76 minutes they hit the bar.
Colin White’s long throw on the left was met with a glancing header by Ramsey, whose effort bounced agonisingly back off the woodwork to safety.
James Muir skied a shot at the other end, but it was Shields doing most of the attacking by this stage, and only the most ardent Northallerton supporter would deny that the home side deserved the three points.
Wilson was still needed at the other end, though, and some brave goalkeeping from him helped keep Shields level as he punched away a free-kick under aerial pressure.
As the match entered the final 10 minutes, the Mariners built up a real head of steam.
First, Smith touched a deep free-kick to Kane, whose powerful effort from 30 yards was well palmed away by Calvert.
White fired a shot towards goal moments later, but his team-mate Ramsey inadvertently blocked it in a sea of bodies.
Talbot was the next to go close, with his drive from 25 yards going not far wide.
Ramsey’s shot from the left of the box was blocked by a Northallerton defender, but the ball bounced into the path of Kane, who calmly slotted home from inside the area.
Every outfield player joined in the celebrations, but they knew there was still work to do.
Northallerton were unable to threaten the goal, though, and the bookings were mounting up for them.
On 89 minutes, Darren Kokes was shown a yellow card, and three minutes later he was given his marching orders after a cynical foul on Smith on halfway, with Shields on a swift counter-attack.
The Mariners sensed an opportunity to kill the game off, and with the match ticking into the fifth minute of stoppage time, they did just that.
Smith’s excellent shot from inside the box was somehow tipped away by Calvert, but the ball dropped to Talbot on the right of the box. He slotted it in for his fifth goal of the season to spark more scenes of celebration on the pitch, in the dugout and on the terraces.
Shields had secured a fully-deserved sixth win in a row against all the odds, and also extended their unbeaten run to seven games.
The players were given a heroes’ reception as they walked up the steps to the dressing room at the end of the match, and will now look to continue the feel good factor on Saturday, when Heaton Stannington are the visitors to Peterlee from 3pm.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Wilson, Locke, Feasey, White, Burn, Graham (Conroy 67), Talbot, Smith (c), Ramsey, Molloy, Kane. Subs not used: Sharp, Renton, Stephenson, Pickering.
Goals: Smith (27), Molloy (31), Ramsey (69), Kane (85), Talbot (90+5).
Booked: Smith, Ramsey, Kane, Molloy.
Sent off: Feasey (10).
NORTHALLERTON TOWN: Calvert, Muir (c), Bowman, Perry, Teasdale, Kokes, Mellanby (Newall 88), Owen, A Ramsbottom, McLachlan, Reaks (Palmer 36). Subs not used: Anderson.
Goals: Owen (pen 11), Mellanby (30), Palmer (51).
Booked: Owen, Mellanby, Palmer, Perry, Kokes.
Sent off: Kokes (90+3).