South Shields were forced to settle for a point as Buxton twice battled back from a goal behind in a match played in treacherous conditions at Silverlands.

Robert Briggs handed the Mariners an ideal start by prodding his side in front within the first two minutes and although third-placed Buxton equalised, Shields took a lead into half-time thanks to a superb volley from Jack Bodenham.

Kevin Phillips’ side were left frustrated when Jamie Ward’s dink earned the Bucks a share of the spoils, but the result kept Shields four points ahead of their opponents in the Pitching In Northern Premier League, and closed the gap on leaders Matlock Town to two points.

With Cedric Main missing out through injury, Phillips brought Darius Osei into the starting line-up and there were two more changes, with the fit-again Myles Boney and Jordan Hunter re-introduced to the team.

A strong start was desired and that was just what Shields delivered.

With less than two minutes on the clock, Blair Adams advanced down the left and teased in a superb low cross which bounced in the area and was forced over the line by Briggs, whose initial prodded effort had been blocked.

Osei also enjoyed a bright opening to the game and he went close to making it two, using his strength and pace to get in behind before his low strike from a tight angle was saved by the legs of goalkeeper Theo Richardson.

The Mariners were pressing persistently and they forced an error from their hosts on 11 minutes when the ball broke to Nathan Lowe, who drove through the centre before powering a low shot just past the post from 20 yards.

Against the run of play, though, Buxton equalised on the quarter-hour mark.

After Boney had brilliantly tipped a 20-yard attempt by Mackenzie Heaney wide, the resulting corner by Ward caught the wind and struck the crossbar before striking Jason Gilchrist and heading towards goal. Boney clawed it away but the officials controversially ruled the ball had crossed the line and the home side celebrated an equaliser, with Gilchrist registering a goal against his former club.

In swirling wind, driving rain and cold conditions which seriously challenged both teams, Shields responded well and were back in front on 26 minutes.

Lowe curled in a superb corner from the right and Bodenham met it with a terrific volley on the turn which arrowed into the top corner as he netted his second goal for the club. (CHECK)

The Mariners held their lead relatively comfortably into half-time, although Chris Dawson did curl an effort not far wide from distance for the hosts four minutes before the break.

There were few clear-cut chances in the second half, although Shields did have the better of the play in the early exchanges of it.

Briggs sent a half-volley narrowly wide from 20 yards, Osei had a low shot tipped wide and a Lowe free-kick from long range was impressively saved by Richardson.

But the fourth and final goal went the way of Buxton midway through the second half, with Ward delicately clipping the ball over Boney from the left of the area after being played in on goal.

There were opportunities for both sides to claim a winner, the first of which fell to Sam Hodgson as he latched onto a ball over the top by Boney, but he was unable to get enough on his header to beat Richardson.

There was a goal-line clearance apiece in the closing stages, with Shields substitute Alex Kempster denied at one end before Bodenham made an acrobatic stop to ensure neither team would claim maximum points.

The Mariners will look to continue their impressive run when they travel to Morpeth Town for an eagerly-awaited derby match on Tuesday.

South Shields: Boney, Hunter, Adams (c), McGowan, Morse, Bodenham, Tee (Jenkins 76), Lowe, Hodgson, Briggs, Osei (Kempster 76). Subs not used: Shaw, Rose, Rossiter.

Goals: Briggs (2), Bodenham (26).

Attendance: 1,056.

Image: Kev Wilson.

South Shields travel to Buxton on Saturday (3pm kick-off) in a meeting between two of the Pitching In Northern Premier League’s top three.

Second-placed Shields are four points above their opponents heading into the match at the Silverlands, and are on a run of four successive victories.

Buxton, meanwhile, ended a run of six league games without a win last Saturday when former Shields striker Jason Gilchrist was among the scorers in a 2-1 victory at Hyde United.

Their win came while the Mariners were left frustrated after their table-topping clash with leaders Matlock Town was postponed.

Kevin Phillips’ side are therefore eager to return to action against the Bucks, who triumphed 1-0 in the reverse fixture in October.

Manager’s view

Phillips said: “We were all hugely frustrated that we couldn’t play last weekend, but having had that enforced rest, we’ve been able to get some more valuable work in on the training pitch.

“Especially with me being new into the job, having that bit of extra time to work with the players and increase their understanding of what I’m looking for and the style I’d like has been beneficial.

“We’ve had a really good week in training and the players have been excellent as usual.

“We know it’s going to be a tough game against a potential promotion rival away from home.

“Buxton are a good side with some excellent players and they’re going to present us with a huge challenge, but it’s one we’re looking forward to.”

Phillips, his staff and players are well aware of the threats Buxton possess.

Among them is Gilchrist, who had a goal-laden two-year spell with Shields before departing for York City last summer.

He is a recent arrival at the Silverlands, where he is joined by team-mates including ex-Newcastle United midfielder Ryan Taylor and former Sheffield United, Derby County and Nottingham Forest forward Jamie Ward.

Ward’s 14 league goals have been crucial in sustaining Buxton’s promotion bid and he is a player Phillips knows well, having been team-mates while Ward, now 35, was attempting to break through at Aston Villa.

Phillips added: “They’ve got good quality players in their squad with the likes of Jamie Ward, who I know well and will be a major threat.

“I was at Aston Villa with him when he was a young kid and have seen him develop into a really good player over the years.

“He’s now also very experienced and is still a big threat, so we need to keep a careful eye on him.”

Team news

Shields go into the game without the injured Callum Ross, and have a doubt over the availability of striker JJ Hooper.

A major boost for the Mariners is the return of goalkeeper Myles Boney, though.

Matchday information

Kick-off at the Silverlands – which has a post code of SK17 6QH – is at 3pm.

Cash turnstiles will be in operation but tickets can be bought in advance until 12pm on matchday by clicking here.

Admission prices are £10 for adults, £6 for concessions and £2 for under-16s.

Ash Chambers struck the only goal 13 minutes from the end as Buxton won 1-0 at 1st Cloud Arena in a tight affair.

The game was on a knife-edge with South Shields building momentum in attacking areas before they suffered a body blow at the other end as Chambers produced a cool finish.

The Mariners had earlier hit the post and seen several efforts narrowly miss the target in a battle between two of the Pitching In Northern Premier League’s top three.

They went into the clash without midfield duo Robert Briggs and Callum Ross, with Will McGowan and Ntumba Massanka both introduced to the starting line-up.

Shields started brightly and after seeing a lot of the ball in the Buxton final third, they had their first attempt at goal as a well-struck Nathan Lowe free-kick drifted narrowly past the post.

The hosts went even closer to opening the scoring on eight minutes after some tremendous play on the left by Alex Kempster, who beat his man and fired in a tremendous cross which Darius Osei headed inches wide.

Buxton’s first sight of goal arrived soon afterwards. A corner from the left was headed on by Josh Granite to Warren Clarke and he attempted to nod goalwards on the turn, but sent the ball over.

McGowan and Conor Tee produced several classy passages of play in the opening 20 minutes and one of those led to a drive through the centre and low left-footed shot from 20 yards by Tee which Richardson held.

It developed into a tight first half and both sides had opportunities on the break in the closing stages of it.

The best of them fell the way of Buxton substitute Chambers, who volleyed over with the net gaping after Jamie Ward fizzed a ball across the area.

Shields had a similarly frustrating moment at the other end as they attacked at pace and Osei rolled the ball across the face of goal, but Kempster was just unable to get on the end of it.

Buxton drew a first serious save from Myles Boney in stoppage time when they progressed into a two-on-one situation and the pass from Ward sent Chambers wider than he would have liked, but the forward did get a firm strike away which Boney did well to kick to safety.

Shields were presented with a golden chance to break the deadlock five minutes into the second half. Richardson made a mess of a clearance and threw the ball to the feet of Ntumba Massanka, who took it around the goalkeeper and hit the post.

The Mariners’ brisk start to the half continued as Dan Martin came inside from the right and found Conor Tee, whose strike from the edge of the box was deflected over.

Martin and Tee were linking up well on the right and threatened again just beyond the hour mark with some impressive build-up play before Tee’s dangerous cross was pushed away by Richardson.

Buxton countered and had a sight of goal themselves, but Blair Adams was on hand to block from Matt Curley. Minutes later, Jon Shaw also produced an important interception to deny Ward.

Shields built some momentum after that as they attempted to exert some more pressure on the visitors’ goal. Lowe had a free-kick from distance saved, Granite fired the ball inches past his own goal after a cross from Kempster and Osei had a 12-yard effort deflected wide.

They were hit by a sucker punch at the other end, though, as Chambers pounced on a loose ball and calmly lifted it in to hand the Bucks the lead.

The Mariners’ first serious threat of an equaliser came with a 20 yard volley from Lowe in the 86th minute which struck a defender. Shields’ appeals for handball were to no avail.

A better opportunity came from the resulting corner as Shaw rose highest and headed the ball to Kempster, who hit the post from close range.

That proved to be the closest Shields came to a leveller on a frustrating afternoon.

Graham Fenton’s side now face a break from league action, and take on Sunderland’s Under-23s in the Durham Challenge Cup at 1st Cloud Arena on Wednesday.

South Shields: Boney, Martin, Adams (c), Shaw, Morse (Bodenham 90+5), Lowe, Tee (Rossiter 72), McGowan, Massanka (Main 57), Osei, Kempster. Subs: Steavens, Hodgson.

Attendance: 2,151.

Image: Kev Wilson.