South Shields are into the semi-final of the National League Academy Cup after a superb victory over Grimsby Town at Blundell Park.
The young Mariners prevailed 5-4 in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw, with goalkeeper Callum Dobson proving to be the hero after saving two spot-kicks.
Shields were 1-0 behind at the break after a goal on the stroke of half-time from Luis Adlard, but Blair Rossiter’s terrific free-kick drew them level in the 69th minute.
With the tie still deadlocked after 90 minutes, it went straight to penalties and Shields found themselves behind when Olly Cresdee’s well-taken effort was saved.
Grimsby had a chance to win it with their fourth spot-kick but Dobson made a fine save before repeating the effort in sudden death and presenting Nathan Kidd with an opportunity to send the Mariners through, which he took.
Andy Inness, Shields’ lead 16-19s coach, said: “Did we play great? Probably not.
“Did we grind it out and show some real grit, determination and togetherness? Yes, definitely.
“There was a real outstanding moment of quality from Blair Rossiter, whose free-kick got us level within the 90 minutes, and then we got the job done on penalties.
“Callum Dobson deserves a massive pat on the back because he had the chance to make a hero of himself and took it.
“Even their manager said after the game that he thought we were the better side over the 90 minutes, which I agreed with, but we weren’t at our free-flowing best and didn’t play as well as we’re capable of, so to win despite that is a great effort from the lads.”
This is the latest milestone moment for the Academy, ranking alongside deep runs in the FA Youth Cup and several other national cup competitions since it was formed in 2017.
Inness added: “It is a brilliant achievement from the lads, and credit to them.
“We’ve been battling quite hard to get into the Academy league above, and the Youth Alliance allowed us into this cup competition with teams from that league.
“The players are showing they’re more than capable of mixing it at that level.
“This time we had to dig in and grind it out, and that’s a great experience for them.
“It’s massive for the lads, and it’s something they will be able to look back on in the future and remember fondly.”
The experience of playing at Blundell Park, which has a capacity of over 9,000, was also cherished by the young Mariners.
Inness said: “The whole day was great for them.
“The lads were buzzing to travel on the team coach and then I don’t think they quite realised how much of a proper football stadium it was until they got there, and it was good to see them taking it in.
“It’s a proper Football League ground – although Grimsby are in the National League at the moment – and holds 9,000 people.
“It was a brilliant experience for them and the pleasing thing for me was that they didn’t freeze in that environment.
“At times they’ve struggled in the FA Youth Cup in home games with a big crowd there, but this time they didn’t freeze under that pressure.
“They dug in and played well at times, battled at times and rode their luck at times.
“They did what they needed to do to get through the tie.”
Shields now await the draw for the semi-finals, where their opponents will be Woking, FC Halifax Town, Chesterfield or Eastleigh.
South Shields booked their place in the first round of the FA Youth Cup for the third time in four seasons with a dramatic penalty shootout win over York City at 1st Cloud Arena.
The young Mariners held a one-goal lead for much of the third qualifying round tie after Olly Cresdee’s deflected 20 yard strike gave them a 21st minute lead.
York cranked up the pressure in search of an equaliser, though, and found it from the penalty spot with just quarter-of-an-hour remaining.
The sides ultimately could not be separated over 90 minutes and the match went straight to penalties, where Callum Dobson proved to be Shields’ hero with two superb saves to seal his side’s progression into the competition proper.
The first opportunity of the night was created by the visitors when Shields half-cleared a cross from the right but the ball dropped to the feet of Jonny Haase, whose 20 yard drive was blocked by Alfie Marriott.
York went even closer in the ninth minute as Kieran Clayton wriggled into some space down the left of the area and found Kyle Lancaster, but his effort from close range struck a combination of Bryan Taylor and Harvey Smith on the line as Shields survived unscathed.
It was a difficult opening to the game for the young Mariners as they attempted to establish a foothold.
They had their first attempt at goal on 16 minutes, with Olly Cresdee’s shot from distance taking a deflection before nestling in the hands of Minstermen goalkeeper Michael Hogan.
Another speculative effort from Cresdee was nicked by a defender just minutes later, but this time it had the desired effect as the ball looped over Hogan and into the net to hand Shields the lead.
The Mariners had to defend that advantage almost immediately, with Jack Watson producing a vital headed interception in the six-yard box just as York looked set to equalise.
Just after the half-hour mark, Max Ezard thought he had levelled things up for the visitors as he powered an effort towards goal. Shields goalkeeper Dobson had other ideas, though, as he stretched to make a tremendous one-handed save before Josh Knowles sent the rebound into the side netting.
Knowles again threatened moments later, but this time Marriott got his body in the way to make a brave block.
The home side were showing tremendous resolve to defend their lead and they did so more comfortably in the closing stages of the first half as they took a one-goal advantage into the break.
Dobson was forced into action less than four minutes into the second half as he tipped an Elliot Algar free-kick over the bar.
Marriott later cleared off the line after Lancaster drove inside from the right and hit a low shot towards goal, and further opportunities came and went for the visitors when Elliot Owen and Ben Dale both headed over from corners.
Shields burst into life midway through the second half as Cresdee and James McGeorge linked up down the right. Hogan closed the angle well and made a decent save from McGeorge to prevent the hosts doubling their advantage.
York were awarded a penalty on 75 minutes as Dobson challenged substitute Jonny Shepherd, who picked himself up to convert from the spot and level the scores.
Marriott superbly blocked from Exard as York threatened to complete their comeback with a late winner, but neither side could find a crucial third goal as the tie went to penalties.
Dobson and Hogan both produced fine saves as both sides failed to convert their first spot-kick, before the next eight penalties were scored, with Charlie Walker, Luke Duffy, Smith and Cresdee notching for Shields.
As the shootout went to sudden death, Dobson made a terrific save to his right to give Jack Watson the chance to seal the win for the Mariners, which he duly took to book their place in the first round.
South Shields: Dobson, Watson, Taylor (Bell 59), Marriott, Morgan, Smith, Walker, Fletcher (Duffy 70), Waldon, McGeorge (c) (Kidd 84), Cresdee. Subs not used: Seymour, Johnstone, Scurfield, Duffy, Kidd, Thompson.
Goal: Cresdee (21).
Image: Kev Wilson.