South Shields were pegged back by a late equaliser as they drew 1-1 with Basford United in the Pitching In Northern Premier League on Saturday.
The Mariners were on course for maximum points when Darius Osei’s goal guided them to a 1-0 lead in the first half.
A superb strike from Mitch Tait with quarter of an hour remaining earned the hosts a share of the spoils, though, as Shields remained second in the table with eight games remaining.
Without the injured Jordan Hunter and suspended Mitch Rose, the Mariners made three changes to the team which started the 1-1 draw at Stafford Rangers the previous Saturday, with Conor Tee, Jon Shaw and Will McGowan introduced to the starting line-up.
They began the game with real vigour and created a chance within 30 seconds when McGowan drove through the centre and found JJ Hooper before he laid it off to Conor Tee, who fired over.
With the travelling support providing a superb atmosphere, Shields dominated possession but the hosts gave them a scare on four minutes with a low strike from distance by Ryan Wilson which Myles Boney watched slide narrowly past his post.
Kevin Phillips’ side were playing some attractive football and almost found a reward midway through the first half, but Nathan Lowe’s shot was held at the second attempt by home goalkeeper Kieran Preston.
The breakthrough did come soon enough, through, after a fine team move which concluded with a burst forward from Blair Adams. After a strong run he played in Osei, who took a touch before picking out the bottom corner with a composed finish.
There was an opportunity for the visitors to double their lead before half-time when McGowan played in Tee on the right of the area and his drive was beaten away by Preston.
Shields will have felt confident about their chances going into the second half but they found chances hard to come by after the break.
Basford fired two warnings as Rev James had an effort deflected wide and Kane Richards flashed over from the edge of the box.
The Mariners’ best opportunity to stretch their advantage came with 20 minutes remaining when Adams provided some impetus from the left and went for goal, but saw his strike crash into the stanchion behind the net.
James lifted a shot narrowly over as the hosts again demonstrated the danger they could pose, before the equaliser was scored in stunning fashion on 75 minutes.
Tait collected the ball 25 yards from goal and struck a superb effort which swerved in the air before nestling in the top corner.
Neither side was able to seriously trouble the opposing defence in the remainder of the match as they were forced to settle for a point apiece.
Second-placed Shields are back in action on Tuesday when they travel to Lancaster City for another Pitching In Northern Premier League fixture.
South Shields: Boney, Tee, Adams (c), Shaw, Morse, Bodenham, Lowe, Briggs, Hooper (Main 77), McGowan (Hodgson 82), Osei. Subs not used: Kempster, Jenkins, Rossiter.
Goal: Osei (26).
Image: Kev Wilson.
South Shields travel to Basford United on Saturday (3pm kick-off) as they return to action in the Pitching In Northern Premier League.
The Mariners are second in the table after being out of action in midweek, with Buxton holding a two-point advantage at the top having played a game more.
Basford defeated Shields 1-0 in the reverse fixture at 1st Cloud Arena in October and are 15th heading into Saturday’s fixture, having won two of their nine games since the turn of the year.
Shields manager Kevin Phillips was pleased to get some vital time on the training field with his players this week following last Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Stafford Rangers.
He said: “This week has given the lads some time to recover from a busy run of games.
“They had a couple of days of rest to completely recover and were back in on Tuesday.
“I told them to switch off from football for the couple of days they were away and enjoy their time with their families, because that’s important.
“We’ve been back to it since Tuesday preparing for Basford, which will be another tough match.
“We know it’ll be a decent pitch because it’s a 3G surface, so hopefully we’ll get the ball down and play the way we know we can.”
Phillips is hopeful that hard work on the training ground will reap dividends for Shields as they bid to return to winning ways.
He added: “We’ve been in a little place recently where we’ve not been getting the rub of the green.
“Every time there was a ricochet it tended to land at a Stafford player’s feet, and it was the same at Ashton.
“You have spells in football like that and the only way you can turn it around is by continuing to work hard and believing in what you’re doing.
“Eventually that luck will turn in our favour and hopefully we’ll capitalise on it.”
News is awaited on the availability of Jordan Hunter (head), but Shields will definitely be without midfielder Callum Ross after he underwent knee surgery which will rule him out for the rest of the season.
Cedric Main and Jon Shaw are hoping to return from injury for the game.
Kick-off at Greenwich Avenue, which has a post code of NG6 0LD, is at 3pm.
Admission prices are £9 for adults, £7 for concessions, £3 for under-16s and students, and £20 for a family ticket of four, which must include at least one child.
To snap up a ticket ahead of the game, click here.
Live updates will be posted on the club’s Twitter account and the Mariners Live team will also be on hand to provide live commentary. You can tune in by clicking here.
A goal in first half stoppage time condemned South Shields to a first home defeat of the season as Basford United took maximum points at 1st Cloud Arena.
Matt Thornhill headed in what proved to be the only goal as the Mariners endured a frustrating afternoon against resolute opponents.
Although Shields started the game with a period of possession, it was Basford who initially made more of an impression in forward areas, with Declan Dunn shooting wide from distance and Will McGowan forced to block from Terry Hawkridge before Rev James fired wide from a Dom Roma cross.
The Mariners wrestled control after that and had their first sight of goal as Robert Briggs skewed a shot wide from outside the area after being teed up by Blair Adams.
That was the signal for a series of attacks from the hosts, who will have felt they should have converted their chances into at least one goal.
Conor Tee almost opened the scoring with a stunning goal as he drifted inside from the left and sent an effort arrowing towards the bottom corner, only for goalkeeper Adam Collin to brilliantly tip it wide.
Dillon Morse’s header from a McGowan corner was then deflected before being cleared off the line, and Shields went closer still when Darius Osei’s header from another McGowan cross struck the crossbar.
An even bigger chance fell the way of Adams after terrific link-up play between Tee and McGowan, but the left-back powered his shot over from an inviting position as Basford breathed another sigh of relief.
The Mariners had two strong penalty appeals for handball waved away as their impressive spell continued but their momentum was halted when Hawkridge suffered a serious ankle injury, resulting in a delay of around 10 minutes as he received treatment before being stretchered off.
Within a minute of the restart, Shields found themselves behind as Thornhill stooped to head in a corner from Ryan Wilson from close range.
The home side went in at the break a goal behind, despite Tee threatening an equaliser 10 minutes into stoppage time with a strike from distance which Collin did well to hold.
The Mariners started the second half brightly and Osei almost conjured a tremendous opportunity for Alex Kempster as he dug out a cross from the left of the area, but he was just unable to get clean contact on his header.
With Basford defending resolutely, chances were hard to come by as the match progressed, with the hosts mainly restricted to strikes from distance.
Briggs curled a free-kick over and Dan Martin was off target from 20 yards after space opened up for him.
A better opportunity went the way of Briggs as Kempster fired in a superb cross from the left, but he headed wide at the back post.
Shields were almost level with four minutes remaining when Tee’s corner from the left picked out Jack Bodenham and his header went inches over the bar.
Blair Rossiter was bright after being introduced as a second half substitute and he was unfortunate not to equalise as he came inside from the right and fired a low effort which Collin brilliantly tipped wide.
Another chance came and went when Kempster picked out another substitute, Callum Stead, but he was unable to convert from close range.
Basford held out to claim maximum points as Shields remained second in the Pitching In Northern Premier League table.
They will aim to return to winning ways when they host Morpeth Town on Tuesday.
South Shields: Boney, Martin, Adams (c) (Lowe 60), Ross (Stead 82), Morse, Bodenham, Tee, Briggs, Osei, McGowan (Rossiter 60), Kempster. Subs not used: Shaw, Hodgson.
Image: Kev Wilson.