South Shields were held to a 1-1 draw by Buxton at Mariners Park in a wind-affected BetVictor Northern Premier Division match on Saturday.
Playing with the wind at their backs in the first half, Shields suffered an early blow when Warren Clarke fired Buxton ahead just six minutes in.
The Mariners slowly wrestled control and brought themselves back on level terms on the half-hour mark as Nathan Lowe’s angled effort found the corner of the net.
Shields battled against the wind after the break and put their visitors under pressure midway through the second half but were unable to find a breakthrough.
The Bucks held on for a point in a frantic end to the game as the Mariners’ lead at the top of the table was reduced to two points.
There had been doubts as to whether the match would go ahead, with two pitch inspections taking place before the referee ruled it was fit for play.
The wind played a major factor across the 90 minutes, though, and almost made its presence felt as early as the fifth minute when Robert Briggs’ effort from distance for Shields was caught by a gust before being well saved by Grant Shenton in the Buxton goal.
The Bucks took the lead in just the sixth minute when Clarke sprinted clear down the left and his composed finish across goal touched the inside of the post before nestling in the net.
Shields’ response was good and they twice went close to finding an equaliser as home debutant Dom McHale fired over from 20 yards before a Briggs free-kick was deflected past the post.
They almost fell further behind at the other end, though, when a corner from the left by Tom Elliott was blown goalwards and cannoned against the post, with Mariners goalkeeper Ryan Whitley scrambling across his goal.
Shields wrestled control after that and following a period of pressure they brought themselves level in the 30th minute when Lowe pounced on a loose ball and sent a controlled volley into the corner of the net.
The home side went close to taking the lead on the stroke of half-time as Lowe’s strike from distance hit team-mate McHale before trickling agonisingly the wrong side of the post.
The conditions were with the visitors in the second half and they fired the Mariners a warning within five minutes of the restart as Diego De Girolamo’s strike from the left of the box tested Whitley at his near post.
That proved to be a rare opportunity in the second 45 minutes for the Bucks, though, with Shields battling well against the wind.
Sefton Gonzales’ turn and shot was saved by Shenton at his near post, substitute Blair Adams slid a dangerous ball across the area which just evaded a touch and Gary Brown fired over from distance as the hosts increased the pressure.
They were convinced they should have had a penalty midway through the second half when Callum Ross’ effort from 20 yards was blocked by the arm of a defender, but their appeals were waved away.
Buxton had one golden chance for a winner but Whitley produced a fine save and several defenders put their bodies on the line to block shots before Callum Chippendale curled wide from 25 yards.
Gonzales tested Shenton again before the end and Shields were inches away from sealing the three points a minute into stoppage time as Josh Gillies’ free-kick found the head of Briggs and his effort went just past the post.
There was one final opportunity when Gillies got in behind on the right of the box and tried to square to Jason Gilchrist, but Shenton stretched out his arms to clutch the ball as Buxton held on for a point.
Shields are back in action next Saturday when they travel to Gainsborough Trinity in the league.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Whitley, Verstraaten (Adams 42), Baxter, Shaw (c), Brown (Turnbull 78), Ross, Lowe, Briggs, Gilchrist, McHale (Gillies 61), Gonzales. Subs not used: Boney, Hunter.
Goal: Lowe (30).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.
Buxton are the visitors to Mariners Park on Saturday as league leaders South Shields look to build on last weekend’s win at Grantham Town.
The Mariners are four points clear at the top of the BetVictor Northern Premier Division and know the importance of picking up maximum points against their Derbyshire-based opponents.
Last Saturday’s 3-1 victory at Grantham installed added confidence into the Shields camp and they will be looking to use that to their advantage against Buxton.
The Bucks are battling against relegation and go into the game sitting 17th in the table.
They were one of the division’s surprise packages last season and earned a play-off place before losing after extra-time at Mariners Park in the semi-final.
Shields won 2-1 in the reverse fixture with a late Lee Mason goal earlier this season and joint manager Graham Fenton is expecting another difficult afternoon.
He said: “I’m sure this game will provide us with another extremely tough test, as every game against Buxton has proved to be over recent years.
“They are a well-organised side with an extremely potent number nine in Diego De Girolamo and we will have to be very mindful of his movement and goal threat, along with Buxton’s other forward players.
“They have been scoring fairly frequently of late but we’re sure that we will cause them lots of problems themselves, especially off the back of scoring three goals last week.”
Shields have had to deal with a number of injuries over recent weeks and will remain without Ross Coombe and Luke Daly on Saturday.
They are hopeful the likes of Blair Adams, Arron Thompson, Dillon Morse and Darius Osei will return soon, although it remains to be seen whether Saturday’s match comes too quickly for them.
Jordan Hunter is expected to be available in a timely boost for the Mariners, while Dom McHale could make his home debut after scoring against Grantham last Saturday.
Fenton was impressed with the effort shown in the win at Grantham and is hoping to see similar levels against Buxton.
He added: “We felt the lads did exceptionally well and kept the positivity high throughout the game.
“They penned Grantham into their own half for the full 45 minutes in the second half, hence the fact (goalkeeper) Ryan Whitley only touched the ball once in the second half.
“It was great to see Dom McHale come on for his debut and contribute with not just his goal to put us back in front but also with his general play throughout the 45 minutes he was on the pitch.
“We’re looking forward to seeing him progress over the next few weeks.
“The dressing room was extremely buoyant after the game and we must take this team spirit and positivity through the next 14 games until the end of the season.”
Kick-off at Mariners Park is at 3pm and admission – which can be paid at the turnstiles – is £10 for adults, £8 for students and over-65s, and £3 for under-16s. Discounts are available before midnight on Friday by clicking here.
The turnstiles will open at 12.30pm and the usual Happy Hours will be in operation from 12.30pm to 1.30pm, and between 5pm and 6pm.
Lee Mason struck a dramatic winner three minutes from time as South Shields came from behind to beat Buxton 2-1 on Saturday.
The Mariners made it five league victories in a row to maintain their place at the top of the table with a solid performance at Silverlands.
After enjoying much the better of the first half, Shields fell behind seven minutes before half-time when Liam Hardy finished well for the hosts from inside the box.
Jon Shaw levelled two minutes into first half stoppage time and the Mariners had to wait until the 87th minute to find their winner, with substitute Mason prodding home at the back post as he got on the end of a superb ball from Blair Adams.
Shields fielded a side with one change from the team which beat Gainsborough Trinity four days earlier, with Phil Turnbull introduced to the starting line-up in place of Robert Briggs, who was at a wedding.
They signalled their intent from the first minute as they attacked with purpose, with Jordan Hunter scampering down the right and sending in a dangerous cross which was cleared for a corner, from which Gary Brown headed wide.
Jordan Annear had a decent chance to hand the visitors the lead when he pounced on a poor clearance from Buxton goalkeeper Grant Shenton, but his effort from 30 yards drifted wide.
The Mariners enjoyed much of the first half possession and forced Shenton to make his first save on 23 minutes as he pushed a Josh Gillies free-kick to safety.
A well-worked move on the half-hour mark almost resulted in the opener for Shields. Hunter and Gillies combined effectively on the right before the latter clipped in a superb cross which was met first time by Adam Thurston, but his goalbound effort was brilliantly blocked by the body of home skipper Brad Roscoe.
Craig Baxter was also on target with a shot from 20 yards soon after, but his deflected strike was well held by Shenton.
The Bucks took the lead against the run of play seven minutes before half-time.
Roscoe sent in a delivery from the right which was chested by Hardy to strike partner Diego De Girolamo, whose half volley was parried by Shields goalkeeper Myles Boney. The ball went into the path of the onrushing Hardy and he slammed it into the bottom corner to the delight of the home support.
The Mariners were not rocked by that blow and levelled things up two minutes into stoppage time.
More good work on the right led to a cross from Hunter which was met at the back post by Baxter and he sent the ball back across the box to Shaw, who hooked it past Shenton from eight yards.
Shields will have been encouraged by their first half performance, but they were unable to match those levels for much of the second half as Buxton provided more of a goal threat.
Aaron Chalmers flashed an effort wide from distance within moments of the restart and Boney later had to save strikes from De Girolamo and Hardy as the hosts looked to retake the lead.
The closest they came was just before the hour mark when Hardy beat his man in the penalty area and looked destined to score, but Boney spread himself well and saved with his thigh.
It was Buxton’s best spell of the game but Shields got through it and began to exert some pressure of their own as the second half progressed.
With 20 minutes remaining, substitute David Foley delivered a dangerous cross from the left which Shenton punched as far as Nathan Lowe, and his drilled effort was saved by the legs of the goalkeeper.
The resulting corner saw Shields go close again as Lowe’s ball in was almost converted by Brown from close range.
Adams had an increasing influence on proceedings late in the second half and he fired the hosts a warning when he got in down the left and drilled a low cross which went just past Mason in the middle.
A similar opportunity arose in the 87th minute and this time, the Mariners found the crucial breakthrough.
Phil Turnbull released Adams on the left of the area and he fired a superb ball across which was smashed home by Mason at the back post as he got in front of his defender.
Foley could have wrapped things up in stoppage time as he got in behind on the right, but Shenton denied him with his feet.
The hosts were unable to trouble Boney in their search for an equaliser and Shields saw the game out well for another important three points.
They will aim for a sixth league win in a row when they travel to FC United of Manchester on Tuesday.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Boney, Hunter, Adams, Turnbull, Morse, Brown, Thurston (Lowe 52), Baxter, Annear (Foley 58), Gillies, Shaw (c) (Mason 65). Subs not used: Wokoma, Charlton.
Goals: Shaw (45+2), Mason (87).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.