South Shields’ superb run in the FA Youth Cup came to an end on Tuesday as they were beaten 4-2 by a strong Lincoln City side.
The young Mariners earned many plaudits on their route to the second round and attracted more admirers with a brave display at Sincil Bank.
After falling 4-0 behind in the second half they refused to give up and a stunning late comeback appeared to be on when goals from Sam Hodgson and Callum Carney reduced the deficit to two.
However, Lincoln – who fielded a side including players with Football League experience – saw the game out in the closing stages to book a third round trip to West Bromwich Albion.
Shields were joined by a vociferous away following of approaching 100 supporters, who gave the players terrific backing throughout.
Lee Picton, Graham Fenton, Jamie Williams and Wess Brown will have left Lincoln with a great feeling of pride after a valiant display from Shields.
They were up against a physically and technically strong Imps side who were impressive for most of the match, but battled well and refused to accept defeat until the final whistle was blown.
Will McCamley was arguably the Mariners’ star player on the night as he caused the hosts problems aplenty on the right flank.
Shields survived an early scare when Ellis Chapman fired over from 10 yards before Shields were dealt a blow when Dom Minchella was forced off with a hamstring injury.
The young Mariners grew into the game and almost took the lead when a fine move led to a flick-on from Michael Colquhoun and chance for McCamley, who lashed an effort from the right of the box which goalkeeper Matthew White brilliantly tipped over.
The resulting corner was half-cleared to Olly Scott on the edge of the box, and White did well to hold his low shot.
Lincoln responded well and took the lead when a corner from the left was headed in by Duncan Idehen at the back post midway through the first half.
Shields were battling to stay in touch with their hosts and avoided going two goals behind as a strong drive by Jordan Adebayo-Smith was superbly saved by Jacob Bramley.
Bramley saved a further effort later in the half from Timothy Akinola but was beaten again when the ball broke to Adebayo-Smith just inside the area and his shot trickled into the bottom corner.
The Mariners had opportunities to reduce the deficit before half-time, most notably when a terrific cross from the left by Joe Lockey was headed wide by Hodgson.
A further chance fell to substitute Bailey Judson after some fine work on the right by McCamley, but his effort was blocked.
Shields were bright at the start of the second half and went close again when McCamley drove at the defence from the left and prodded an effort not far wide.
Their hopes suffered a hammer blow soon after, though, when a Lincoln cross from the left was headed down to Adebayo-Smith and he kept his composure to pick out the top corner.
The Mariners continued to battle and both Hodgson and McCamley went close.
The tie appeared as good as over, though, when Adebayo-Smith latched onto a ball through the centre and flicked home a fine finish to complete his hat-trick and put Lincoln four goals to the good.
Shields deserved a goal for their efforts and got it when McCamley raced in behind on the right and squared the ball for Hodgson to finish from close range.
Within two minutes of that, the Mariners appeared to be right back in the game when Carney smashed a free-kick into the top corner from 20 yards out on the left.
The visitors continued to attack and looked to have Lincoln on the ropes, but Judson was shown a straight red card for a foul on the left soon after to erode their chances.
McCamley did almost score a deserved goal in stoppage time as he got in behind on the right, but his shot was brilliantly saved by the legs of White.
Shields ultimately ran out of time in their comeback bid. What they never ran out of – at any point of this superb FA Youth Cup run – was character.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Bramley, Yembe, Lockey, Elcoate (Carney 66), Patterson (c), Onarbay (Croft 46), McCamley, Scott, Colquhoun, Hodgson, Minchella (Judson 10). Subs not used: Errington, Black.
Goals: Hodgson (75), Carney (77).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.
The SSFC Academy continued their outstanding start to the season by hitting double figures for the second time on Wednesday.
The Mariners made it four consecutive wins in all competitions as they beat Harrogate Town 13-0 at Silksworth.
In those four games, they have scored 34 goals and conceded none, and impressed with their attractive brand of football.
They were on top from the outset against Harrogate, and took the lead within the first three minutes when Michael Colquhoun – who went on to score six times – worked his way inside from the left before finishing well.
There were numerous further chances in the minutes that followed, with Colquhoun heading wide after great work from Will McCamley, while Callum Guy and Dan McGuire also went close.
The second goal arrived on 12 minutes as Kelvin Thear got on the end of a superb through ball before firing home.
McCamley hit the post before Thear scored again soon after, showing good footwork to work his way into some space before smashing into the bottom corner from 25 yards.
McGuire struck the crossbar with a stunning effort from 30 yards, and the Mariners continued to press their opponents back before adding an inevitable fourth goal when Guy’s corner was cleared as far as Ethan Biwer, who picked out the top corner.
Less than a minute later, Colquhoun grabbed his second as he headed in a corner from Guy, and then Thear swept home for his hat-trick after an excellent move from Shields.
The one-way traffic continued in the second half. Colquhoun completed his hat-trick as he flicked home a McGuire pass from close range, while substitute Bradley Allen struck a sweet first-time shot into the net and Colquhoun scored again with another fine finish to make it 9-0.
Thear was next on the scoresheet as he netted his fourth of the game, but it was 21 more minutes before the Mariners grabbed their 11th.
That came as substitute Callum Carney’s effort from the edge of the box took a deflection before nestling in the net.
Joe Hassanin hit the post before Colquhoun made it 12 with a placed effort.
Colquhoun had the final say with the last kick of the game when he got on the end of a ball through the middle and touched it past the goalkeeper.
The young Mariners are next in action on Monday as they take on Spennymoor Town in the FA Youth Cup at Mariners Park. Kick-off is at 7pm and admission prices are £2 for adults and £1 for concessions.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Bramley, Biwer, Scott, McGuire, Kavanagh, Patterson, McCamley, Elcoate, M Colquhoun, Guy, Thear. Subs (all used): Lister, Ross, Carney, Allen, Hassanin.
Goals: Colquhoun (3, 37, 49, 52, 84, 90), Thear (12, 17, 41, 58), Biwer (36), Allen (51), Carney (79).