Southport 1-1 South Shields (2-4 on pens)
South Shields qualified for the final qualifying round of the Emirates FA Cup as Myles Boney took centre stage with two superb saves in a penalty shootout win at Southport.
The Mariners battled back from a goal behind against the National League North outfit, who had eliminated them from the Buildbase FA Trophy a year earlier.
Darius Osei slid in a 74th minute equaliser and Shields were the better side in the closing stages, but were unable to seal a victory in the 90 minutes as they were forced into a second penalty shootout of the season in this competition.
Just as he did in the second qualifying round at Warrington Town, Boney came to the fore with two brilliant stops to help his side prevail, with all four of Shields’ penalty takers converting from the spot.
The Mariners now await Thursday’s draw for the fourth qualifying round as they bid to claim a place in the first round for the first time in the modern club’s history.
Shields made one change to the side which won 3-1 at Bamber Bridge in the Pitching In Northern Premier League three days earlier, with fit-again Blair Adams introduced in place of Will Jenkins, releasing Alex Kempster into a more attacking role.
The Mariners started brightly enough in possession, but Southport’s danger from set-pieces was prevalent from an early stage as they attempted to bombard their visitors with an array of deliveries into the box.
The home side also had a series of efforts from outside the area, the first of which was a sweet strike by Connor Woods which Boney was equal to three minutes in.
Jack Sampson and David Morgan were off target with shots from a similar range before Shields almost stunned their hosts through the in-form Jason Gilchrist, who slammed an effort from just outside the area which left the crossbar rattling.
Boney was kept busy at the other end and his latest interventions saw him do well to keep out a 25 yard strike by Russell Benjamin before tipping a half volley from Morgan onto the bar.
Phil Turnbull and Kempster both denied Mo Ali with blocks but Southport’s pressure told just before the half-hour mark, albeit in hugely fortuitous circumstances.
Jack Bainbridge got in down the right of the area and as he fired a low cross into the box, it struck the standing leg of Callum Ross and fizzed past Boney to leave many inside the ground scratching their heads, as it had appeared from some angles that the ball had gone past the post.
Buoyed by their goal, Southport pushed for a second and Charlie Oliver sent a ball across the face of goal which begged a touch but did not get one, while Craig Baxter was the next to produce an impressive block from a set-piece.
Shields did have some promising openings of their own in the closing stages of the first half without being able to test home goalkeeper Tony McMillan, and there were enough signs of encouragement to reflect on at half-time as they looked to produce a second half turnaround.
That is exactly what transpired, and they were almost level within two minutes of the restart as Blair Adams’ menacing cross from the left deceived McMillan and flew towards the top corner before the goalkeeper scrambled across to make a fingertip save.
The Mariners were forced into a change moments later, with captain Jon Shaw withdrawn due to a knock and replaced by Jordan Hunter, prompting a change of shape as Lee Picton and Graham Fenton opted to go three at the back.
It was an alteration which worked a treat, with Hunter in particular thriving on the right-hand side as he posed a constant threat to the Southport back-line.
Shields began to dominate possession and Gilchrist, having been starved of chances barring the one he created for himself and struck the crossbar with, was brought into the centre of proceedings.
His first sniff of goal came as Kempster delivered a dangerous cross from the left and Gilchrist volleyed over what was a difficult opportunity at the back post.
Gilchrist also headed over from an Adams cross and had a better chance less than a minute later as Hunter’s cross was destined for his head at point-blank range, only for the slightest of touches by a defender to increase the pace on the ball, meaning it came at Gilchrist too quickly for him to react and it struck him before going over.
The pressure on Southport was building and it paid off with 16 minutes remaining as Gilchrist produced some fine skill on the left flank and found Kempster, who saw an effort blocked before sending the loose ball across the face of goal, where Osei was on hand to roll in his second of the season.
Kempster proved to be Shields’ biggest threat in the closing stages and he forced McMillan into a decent save with a strike from distance, while substitute Will McCamley also went close as he drove at the Sandgrounders’ defence from the left before having a shot deflected not far wide.
As the match went into stoppage time, Southport’s threat returned and they went close three times, with Morgan narrowly off target with two attempts from the edge of the area before Boney made a fine interception in the final minute after a loose backpass threatened to unravel all of Shields’ good work.
The tie would therefore be decided with the taking of penalty kicks, the same method the Mariners had prevailed from two rounds previously against Warrington Town.
They again went second on this occasion, with the first crucial moment arriving when the third spot-kick of the shootout, taken by Southport’s Benjamin, was superbly kept out by Boney as he dived low to his right.
Boney also brilliantly saved Southport’s second penalty, diving the correct way before saving from Oliver, giving Shields much the upper hand.
Robert Briggs, Gilchrist and Kempster were all successful from the spot and Boney’s saves meant Osei had an opportunity to fire Shields into the next round, which he duly took as he confidently stroked his penalty home.
The Mariners are now potentially one win away from qualifying for the competition proper, although first they must negotiate a league fixture at home to Matlock Town on Saturday, followed by another match at 1st Cloud Arena against Morpeth Town three days later.
South Shields: Boney, Baxter, Adams (McCamley 75), Shaw (c) (Hunter 50), Morse, Ross, Turnbull, Briggs, Gilchrist, Kempster, Osei. Subs not used: Coombe, Agnew, Verstraaten, Jenkins, Hodgson.
Goal: Osei (74).