South Shields and Ashton United played out a 1-1 draw as the Mariners failed to win for just the second time this season at 1st Cloud Arena.
Both goals were scored inside the first 13 minutes, with Will McGowan bringing Shields back on level terms on his first start for the club after they had fallen behind early on.
The Robins took the lead in just the fifth minute as Sam Sheridan curled in a superb cross from the right and Liam Tomsett stooped to head it past Myles Boney.
It was part of a bright opening by the visitors which also included a powerful strike from Nathan Ntalu which hit the back of Jack Bodenham’s head as it arrowed towards goal.
Shields’ threat gradually increased in the early stages and after Jordan Hunter fired over from distance, McGowan brought them back on level terms on 13 minutes.
It was a beautifully well-worked goal by the Mariners as Conor Tee played a perfectly weighted reverse pass into McGowan’s path and the teenager was coolness personified to slide the ball into the bottom corner.
The home side were mainly restricted to efforts from distance in the remainder of the first half as the likes of Blair Adams and Robert Briggs took aim, but were unable to test goalkeeper Oliver Martin.
At the other end, Bodenham was on hand to snuff out two further Ashton half-chances with blocks, but the sides went in at the break level.
The game followed a similar pattern in the early stages of the second half as both teams found opportunities difficult to come by as they searched for some rhythm.
The Mariners thought they had gone in front on the hour mark, but Ntumba Massanka’s celebrations were short-lived after the hosts were penalised for an offside in the build-up.
Manager Graham Fenton introduced teenage midfielder Blair Rossiter from the bench for his senior debut, and extra impetus was brought to the game after a number of feisty exchanges between the sides.
That did not result in more clear-cut chances, though, with Adams unable to get clean contact on an effort which trickled wide, Tee testing Martin from long range and Rossiter having a strike blocked.
Shields produced their best football of the second half on 79 minutes as they attacked with pace down the right and Hunter’s dangerous low cross was cut out just before it could reach Massanka in the centre.
Although they enjoyed much of the possession and territory in the closing stages, the Mariners were unable to convert them into a second goal as both sides were forced to settle for a point. The closest the home side came in the closing stages was a deflected 20 yards strike by Briggs which Martin comfortably saved.
Shields are back in action on Saturday when they travel to Hyde United in the Pitching In Northern Premier League.
South Shields: Boney, Hunter, Adams, Briggs (c), Morse, Bodenham, Osei (Kempster 56), Jenkins (Rossiter 64), Massanka, Tee, McGowan (Shaw 73). Subs not used: Steavens, Hodgson.
Goals: McGowan (13).
Image: Kev Wilson.
South Shields return to league action on Tuesday as they welcome Ashton United to 1st Cloud Arena.
The Mariners lead the Pitching In Northern Premier League on goal difference after picking up five wins and a draw in their opening six games. They continued their impressive run of results with a 3-1 victory at Shildon in the Emirates FA Cup on Saturday.
Tuesday’s game will see Shields come up against an Ashton team which has endured a difficult start to the campaign after winning just one of their first six league matches and suffering FA Cup elimination at the hands of Hebburn Town on Saturday.
The Robins will be looking for a reaction after their 1-0 defeat to a side in the division below, but Shields manager Graham Fenton says he is expecting similar emotions from his own players after what he felt was a mixed performance against Shildon.
He said: “It’s going to be a difficult game against Ashton.
“They beat us the last time we played them and they’ll be smarting after their defeat on Saturday.
“They’ll be disappointed and want to come back fighting, but our mentality is that we were so disappointed with our performance on Saturday and we want to come back fighting ourselves.
“Yes we got through in the competition but we have to up our levels and show our disappointment in a positive way, which is by putting on a much better performance.”
The Mariners go into Tuesday’s game without Nathan Lowe (knee), Callum Ross (ankle) and Joao Gomes (knee).
Kick-off at 1st Cloud Arena is at 7.45pm and admission prices are £10 for adults, £8 for students, over-65s and disabled supporters, and £3 for under-16s.
Cash turnstiles will be in operation and the ground will open at 5.30pm.
Tickets can be bought in advance until 3pm on Tuesday by clicking here.
Supporters are advised that there is no facility to pay by card at the turnstiles, so those not planning to carry cash should buy a ticket in advance.
Meanwhile, new stock for the club shop has arrived in time for the game. Visit the shop – located by the players’ tunnel – to check out new caps, Nike polo shirts, and home and away replica strips in new sizes.
South Shields were eliminated from the Buildbase FA Trophy by Ashton United on Tuesday.
In an action packed second-half, Ashton’s Sam Baird got the first goal in the 55th minute before Jamie Sterry equalised just 10 minutes later.
Michael Raynes got the winner seven minutes from the end, sending Ashton into the second round of the competition.
This was the third meeting between these sides this season and both teams saw plenty of the ball in the first half, but Shields had more possession and looked the more likely to score. The Mariners’ defence was able to switch play well and direct the ball through the middle.
Shields had the first chances of the game, with Alex Kempster and Jason Gilchrist going close in the opening stages. Ashton goalkeeper Greg Hartley was also called into action early on as he saved a Blair Adams header.
The Mariners had a couple of opportunities in the Ashton half. Jordan Hunter hit a menacing deep cross towards goal but the ball went over the bar, and Blair Adams was causing issues down the left for the Robins, providing attacking opportunities before being able to slot back into defence.
Ashton had a sniff at the Shields goal after switching the ball to the left wing, but a cross from John Pritchard was headed out.
On the cusp of half-time Adams had a decent chance saved after he received the ball from Robert Briggs and cut through the defence, but he was ruled offside.
Ashton came out full of energy in the second half, having a couple of early chances. Former Mariners forward Millenic Alli burst down the wing and his effort was kept out by Myles Boney.
Shields had a couple of plays in the Ashton half but it was the hosts who drew the first blood of the game. A Pritchard free-kick was met by Baird, who volleyed home.
The Mariners continued to attack and used Hunter and Kempster down the wings to try to build play.
They were soon rewarded for their efforts when a cross came in and was stabbed home by Sterry as he registered his first goal for the club.
Both teams began to pick up the pace in search of a winner, the ball pinging between them and both sides having chances.
It was the Robins who got the next goal when Raynes headed in a Pritchard corner in the 83rd minute.
Shields had numerous chances towards the end of the game to try to take it to penalties. Hartley pulled off another good save in the bottom corner to deny substitute Darius Osei in the 86th minute.
Just moments later Ashton managed to clear a dangerous ball into the box and another Osei effort was saved.
In the dying stages of added time, Sterry came agonisingly close to nabbing the equaliser but Ashton were able to block the ball and clear, with strong penalty appeals for a challenge on Dillon Morse waved away as the hosts held on to progress to the next round of the Trophy.
South Shields: Boney, Sterry, Adams, Ross, Morse, Briggs (c), Hunter (Hindle 84), Turnbull, Gilchrist, Lowe (Mason 81), Kempster (Osei 70). Subs not used: Coombe, Shaw, Baxter, Gillies.
Goal: Sterry (66).