South Shields survived a scare to secure a late win over Chester-le-Street Town in the Durham Challenge Cup on Tuesday.
Dillon Morse netted the winner eight minutes from the end to seal a 2-1 victory for the Mariners and secure their place in the quarter-final.
Ben Harmison had opened the scoring early in the second half before Michael Hepplewhite equalised for the hosts.
Shields signalled their intent by naming a strong starting line-up as they continued their bid to reclaim the trophy they won in 2017.
In difficult conditions they started well against the Northern League Division Two side, with David Foley and Nathan Lowe both narrowly missing the target early on.
Teenager Callum Guy had a better opportunity to break the deadlock when he got on the end of a flick from Foley, but home goalkeeper Aaron Steavens denied him.
Shields continued to be frustrated and went close again when Foley got in behind on the left of the box and fired in a low ball which Harmison narrowly failed to convert.
The Mariners hit the woodwork on the half hour mark as Darren Lough’s cross from the left deceived Steavens before striking the post, with Harmison sending the rebound over.
A Josh Gillies free-kick went just past the post on the stroke of half-time and although the home side were dogged, Shields will have felt confident going into the second half.
They found the breakthrough almost immediately as a strike from distance from Ursene Mouanda took a deflection before being tipped onto the bar by Steavens, and Harmison tapped in the loose ball.
Harmison nodded a further effort not far wide after a cross from the left by Gillies, but the Cestrians levelled things up against the run of play in the 69th minute.
A low cross from the right led to a mix-up at the back and Hepplewhite took advantage to flick the ball home.
The second round tie was heading for penalties as it stood, although Gary Brown almost swung things back in Shields’ favour when he prodded an effort against the post from a Lowe free-kick.
The Mariners went close again when Mouanda threaded a ball through to Foley and Steavens did well to deny him.
However, the goalkeeper’s resistance was finally broken in the 82nd minute when he again saved a Foley effort but this time he parried to the feet of Morse, who made no mistake.
The centre-back thought he had scored again a minute before the end with a close range finish, but the offside flag cut his celebrations short.
Shields had done enough to qualify for the last eight, but will be looking for an improvement in Saturday’s league trip to Lancaster City.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Lister, Biwer (Baxter 83), Lough, Mouanda, Morse, Brown (c), Gillies, Lowe, Harmison (Cogdon 83), Guy (Briggs 83), Foley. Subs not used: Shaw, Adams.
Goals: Harmison (46), Morse (82).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.
South Shields will continue their bid to regain the Durham Challenge Cup on Tuesday when they travel to Chester-le-Street Town in the second round of the competition.
The Mariners won the cup in 2017 on their way to a historic quadruple, beating Billingham Synthonia 2-0 in the final at Hartlepool United’s Victoria Park.
Their involvement in last season’s competition ended at the same venue at Hartlepool triumphed on penalties in the quarter-final.
Shields kicked off their challenge this term with a resounding 11-0 win over West Auckland Tunns at Mariners Park, but are expecting a more difficult test against Northern League Division Two outfit Chester-le-Street.
Graham Fenton and Lee Picton will select from a squad of 18 for the match, which kicks off at 7.30pm.
The squad is as follows: Liam Connell, Dan Lister, Blair Adams, Craig Baxter, Gary Brown, Darren Lough, Dillon Morse, Jon Shaw, Robert Briggs, Josh Gillies, Callum Guy, Nathan Lowe, Ursene Mouanda, Phil Turnbull, Gavin Cogdon, Carl Finnigan, David Foley, Ben Harmison.
Chester-le-Street Town have asked the club to make supporters aware of some important parking information ahead of Tuesday’s Durham Challenge Cup fixture.
Parking at Moor Park – which has a post code of DH2 3RW – is extremely restricted after Chester-le-Street installed a Multi Use Games Area (MUGA) at the ground.
That means there will only be 20 parking spaces allotted to South Shields at the game, with passes having been handed out to players and committee members to use.
As this area is extremely tight, supporters are politely asked not to attempt to make the left turn from the main road into Moor Park, as there are no turnaround areas inside.
Chester-le-Street have also requested that supporters do not park at the nearby Chester Moor pub or the Church Mouse pub.
The home club will have an individual near the turn-off advising supporters where to go to park, which will mainly be up Waldridge Lane, which is on the opposite side of the dual carriageway.
To access Waldridge Lane, follow the A167 past the left turn-off to the ground, and instead turn right at the next roundabout. Follow the next road until you reach the next roundabout, where you should take another right to get onto Waldridge Lane, where parking is available.
The club very much appreciates your backing for the team and hopes to see you at the game at Moor Park.