South Shields Academy defeated York City on penalties for the second time in little over a month in the National League Academy Cup on Wednesday.
The Mariners got the better of York on spot-kicks in the final qualifying round of the FA Youth Cup after a 1-1 draw at 1st Cloud Arena in October.
History repeated itself in the Academy Cup, with goalkeeper Callum Dobson again proving to be the hero as Shields battled into the second round of the competition.
The sides played out a 1-1 draw over the 90 minutes, with Blair Rossiter’s opener for the home side cancelled out by York as they forced a shootout.
It was an impressive display by the Mariners which left the coaching staff buoyed.
Academy coach Andy Inness said: “There are lots of positive things for us to reflect on.
“We kept the ball well at times, played through the thirds really well and adapted in a good way tactically.
“York’s set-up posed us a couple of problems and we had a chat about that at half-time. The players carried out our instructions very well in the second half, which was a much more controlled performance.”
Rossiter’s goal caught the eye, with the midfielder – linking up with the Academy as he steps up his recovery from a knee injury – latching onto a ball from Joao Gomes before picking out the bottom corner. It was a fine counter-attack by the Mariners which began on the edge of their own penalty area.
Dobson saved one York penalty and almost stopped two others as Shields emerged 4-3 winners on spot-kicks, sealing their progression in what is a prestigious national competition.
The influence of Rossiter and Gomes – both part of the first-team squad – proved particularly beneficial to the group.
Inness added: “Having Blair and Joao with us is great for the rest of the players because it outlines where they can aspire to be, with both of them having progressed through the Academy themselves.
“The way they prepare for the games and carry themselves is a lesson for the younger lads, as is their work-rate on the pitch and the intensity they play at.
“It’s a great learning curve for the players and having those two with us over the last couple of weeks has raised the standards and performance levels of the Academy group.”
In the college league, meanwhile, another Shields Academy team played out a 1-1 draw with Park View. The Mariners’ goal was scored by Joseph Armstrong.
Joao Gomes stepped up his recovery from a knee injury in spectacular fashion as his hat-trick guided South Shields’ Under-19s to a thrilling victory over Gateshead on Wednesday.
In an eagerly-awaited clash between two sides which both went into the game with 100% records in the league, the young Mariners emerged 3-2 victors away from home.
Gomes, who has returned to training in recent weeks having been out since pre-season, was joined in the Academy team by Blair Rossiter, who was making his own comeback from a knee injury.
Both players are being assessed before coming into contention for a first-team return.
The win moved Shields to within three points of National League Under-19 Alliance Division I leaders Gateshead with two games in hand, having won all five of their matches in the competition so far this season.
Midfielder Blair Rossiter has committed his future to South Shields after signing his first senior contract.
The 18-year-old has been part of the club’s Academy for the last two seasons and has caught the eye during regular involvement in first-team training sessions during that time.
Rossiter has now been rewarded for those efforts and although he acknowledges he has much work to do to establish himself firmly in the first-team picture, he sees this as a key step.
The Scottish teenager said: “This is a brilliant moment for me and I’m hugely grateful for the opportunity I’ve been given.
“I’ve put in a lot of hard work over the two years I’ve been here and it has been challenging at times, but it has all been worth it.
“The efforts I’ve put in so far have paid off but I have to keep striving to improve now as the step into making regular appearances for the first-team is the most difficult one and I need to continually prove I deserve that.”
Rossiter was part of the famous Rangers youth set-up for eight years before making the difficult decision to leave the club and spend a year in junior football with East Kilbride prior to linking up with the Shields Academy.
He was initially unable to play competitive games for the Academy due to issues over his international clearance and Covid-19 brought an early end to each of his two seasons at that level.
The left footer impressed coaching staff at first-team and Academy level in the opportunities he was given to make a mark, though, and despite the obvious frustrations at not playing as much football as he would have liked, South Shields quickly became a “second home”.
Rossiter added: “I spent time with a host family when I came here and they were brilliant in terms of helping me settle in the area after such a big move.
“When I go home to Scotland I’m always raring to get back and train, which probably says it all about how much I enjoy it here. It’s like a second home for me.
“A lot of people say it but it’s true that this is like a family club and everyone is so nice to you, which makes it easy to settle in.”
Rossiter was part of the first-team group which spent two days in the Lake District this week taking part in a range of activities as part of a team building exercise.
Management staff were again impressed with the way he adapted to being part of that set-up but that came as no surprise given the strides he has made over the last two years.
Manager Graham Fenton said: “We’re extremely happy that Blair had put pen to paper on a contract with the club.
“He has really impressed us over the last couple of years within the Academy environment despite suffering some frustrations along the way through situations entirely out of his hands.
“Since he has come into the first-team environment he has excelled. We set Blair a challenge to improve on the physical side of his game and he has worked very hard to make inroads into that. He is looking fitter and stronger all the time and he deserves this opportunity.
“Blair is a very exciting young player who is technically very gifted, and supporters can hopefully look forward to seeing him make an impact in the first-team this season.”