A terrific goalkeeping display by Buxton’s Theo Roberts thwarted South Shields as their title hopes suffered a setback on Saturday.

The Mariners were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw, with Roberts making a string of superb saves late in the game to earn his side a share of the spoils.

Lee Mason had given Shields the lead early on, but a header from Nico De Girolamo cancelled it out.

The Mariners enjoyed much of the possession and territory but Buxton proved difficult to break down until the closing stages, when Roberts repelled everything which came his way.

Shields were left to reflect on a performance full of promise, but were left frustrated by their inability to take maximum points.

They were on top from early in the game and Mason thought he had put them ahead in the eighth minute when he slid in a pass from Nathan Lowe, but the flag was up for offside.

Just four minutes later, Mason did break the deadlock when an effort from 20 yards from Lowe was deflected into his path and he worked the ball onto his left foot before drilling it into the bottom corner for his 11th goal of the season.

Buxton equalised in the 20th minute when a corner from the left by Brad Grayson was met by a towering header from De Girolamo which found the net.

The visitors were inches away from taking the lead as Jude Oyibo got in behind on the left of the area and squared the ball for Liam Hardy, who was unable to divert it home from point-blank range.

Shields recovered from their shaky period with a spell of dominance towards the end of the first half, but were unable to go back in front.

Luke Daly went close when he shot wide under pressure after a ball from Mason, while another big opportunity came and went when Blair Adams’ cross was headed wide by Connor Bell.

Shields were creating chances well and almost made it 2-1 as a pass from Lowe split the defence and played in Robert Briggs on the inside right of the box, but he was denied by the legs of Roberts.

Bell also saw an effort saved by Roberts after an impressive turn in the area, while Daly skewed a further shot wide from the edge of the box as the Mariners cranked up the pressure.

Goalkeeper Liam Connell had to be alert at the other end, though, and was on hand to make a smart stop at his near post from Hardy a minute before half-time.

Shields continued to create chances in the second half and had a golden opportunity when Briggs won the ball well in midfield and forced it through to Mason, whose shot was beaten away by Roberts.

Roberts was finally beaten for a second time on 56 minutes when a clipped pass from Lowe fell to the feet of Bell, but his effort smashed against the post as Buxton breathed a sigh of relief.

A free-kick from the left by Lowe soon after evaded everyone before Roberts tipped it wide, and Shields continued to be frustrated as a series of blocks denied them.

Roberts was beaten again by substitute Josh Gillies as he hooked a shot goalwards, but he too was kept off the scoresheet by the post as the frustration grew for the hosts.

Briggs whipped an effort wide from distance before two more golden chances, with Gillies and Jon Shaw both played in on goal in separate incidents.

Gillies was denied by a block and Shaw saw his shot saved by Roberts, though, as Buxton continued to hold on.

Roberts saved his best until stoppage time with two outstanding saves.

The first was from Ben Harmison as the Shields substitute headed a Gillies free-kick seemingly into the net, but the goalkeeper somehow sprawled to tip it onto the bar before the ball bounced to safety.

The final act came six minutes into stoppage time when Briggs produced a moment of inspiration with a brilliant piledriver from distance which was destined for the top corner, but Roberts produced an incredible leap to produce a fingertip save and deny Shields what would have been a vital win.

They will hope to return to winning ways away to Mickleover Sports next Saturday.

SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Adams, Shaw (c), Morse, Turnbull, Daly (Harmison 78), Briggs, Mason (Foley 68), Lowe, Bell (Gillies 73). Subs not used: Lough, Mouanda.

Goal: Mason (12).

Attendance: 1,428.

WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.

South Shields will aim to round off a positive week when they take on Buxton at Mariners Park on Saturday.

The Mariners have been bolstered by victories at Bamber Bridge and Dunston UTS over the last seven days as they strengthened both their push for promotion and bid to regain the Durham Challenge Cup.

However, they go into the game against Buxton knowing that any further slip-ups could prove costly as they bid to chase down top two Warrington Town and Farsley Celtic.

Shields are without a win in their last two home games, having won all 13 league matches at Mariners Park prior to that.

Joint manager Lee Picton knows the importance of picking up maximum points against Buxton, who defeated Shields 2-0 earlier in the season and are seventh in the table, six points off the play-off places with two games in hand.

He said: “Three points is pretty much a must on Saturday.

“We’ve got to go on the front foot right from the off and take lots of elements from Saturday’s and Tuesday’s performances to hit the ground running.

“It will be great to be back at Mariners Park and we’ve got a few really difficult decisions to make in terms of team selection, because some players really stuck their neck out on Tuesday.”

Connor Bell could make his first appearance at Mariners Park on Saturday.

The striker joined Shields a fortnight ago, and made his debut as a substitute at Bamber Bridge last Saturday.

He followed that up with an impressive performance from the start in the Durham Challenge Cup win at Dunston UTS on Tuesday, and Picton is convinced he is ready to make his home bow.

He said: “Tuesday was Connor’s first start for the club and the qualities and character he exuded were everything we look for in a player at this club.

“If that is a sign of things to come, we’ve signed a really good player and we’re looking forward to seeing more from him.

“He was absolutely outstanding.

“It wasn’t just his quality on the ball, but just his character and personality.

“I was talking with Graham (Fenton) and Brian (Smith) on the sidelines during the game and we said he’s right up our street.

“He’s tenacious, has a never-say-die attitude, has great energy and enthusiasm for the game and has some obvious quality.”

Shields are six points behind leaders Warrington Town, having played a game less, and five points behind second-placed Farsley Celtic, who they have played the same number of matches as.

They go into Saturday’s game without Gavin Cogdon (calf), Gary Brown (calf), Carl Finnigan (ankle) and Barrie Smith (knee).

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.

Discounted tickets will be available online until midnight on Friday. They can be bought by clicking here.

South Shields slipped to their second defeat in four days as they lost 2-0 at Buxton on Tuesday.

The Mariners went into the match looking for a strong response to Saturday’s 3-0 reverse at Warrington Town.

Despite a much-improved display, though, they returned to South Tyneside without any points.

Shields were boosted ahead of the game after David Foley and Josh Gillies were passed fit to play, having missed out on Saturday.

But things went against them early on and the hosts took the lead when striker Liam Hardy drove inside from the left before hitting an effort from distance which took a deflection before finding the top corner.

The Mariners responded well and had a number of chances to equalise.

Lee Mason’s shot from the edge of the box was deflected before being saved.

Shields’ best opportunity fell the way of Gillies after he pounced on a loose backpass and rounded the keeper before losing his balance and hitting the ball wide.

Mason went close seven minutes before half-time when he fizzed an effort wide from the right of the box, but Buxton almost doubled their lead on the stroke of the break.

Fortunately for Shields, Hardy’s powerful shot went wide.

The second half started in frantic fashion and both teams had chances to score.

Blair Adams blasted the ball into the side netting after being played in by Foley, while Foley himself was unfortunate not to equalise as he thrashed an effort over from 25 yards.

Buxton had a number of opportunities and almost added their second on 62 minutes when Joe McGee’s shot was deflected just wide.

Shields tried to build some momentum in their search of an equaliser but were unable to find a way through.

Craig Baxter had an effort saved and substitute Ben Harmison was also denied.

The killer second goal for Buxton arrived with 11 minutes left when a free-kick from deep on the right found Greg Young, and he picked out the bottom corner.

It capped a disappointing night for Shields, who will hope to bounce back on Saturday when they host Grantham Town.

SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter, Adams, Shaw (c) (Brown 90), Morse, Turnbull, Mouanda, Briggs (Harmison 69), Foley, Mason, Gillies. Subs not used: Lister, Lough, Wright.

Attendance: 266.