Robert Briggs delivered a Halloween treat for South Shields supporters as his second half strike saw off the challenge of Colne in the Buildbase FA Trophy.
In a hard-fought third qualifying round tie at 1st Cloud Arena, Briggs came off the bench to grab the only goal of the game and ensure the Mariners made it three wins in a row in three separate competitions.
It was also a fourth consecutive clean sheet for Shields as they defeated a side which had frustrated and ultimately eliminated them from the Emirates FA Cup just over a year earlier.
There were six changes to the Shields side which won by the same scoreline against FC United of Manchester four days earlier, with Mathew Wade, Craig Baxter, Arron Thompson, Wouter Verstraaten, Will McCamley and Josh Gillies introduced to the starting line-up.
Colne kept a clean sheet on their last visit to South Tyneside and goalkeeper Hakan Burton showed his determination to keep the Mariners at bay again when he was called into action to make a stunning stop from point-blank range 18 minutes in as McCamley connected with Alex Kempster’s low cross.
The next opportunity for the hosts originated on the right flank and again McCamley was at the heart of it as he cut inside before firing an effort which Burton parried against Jack Hindle before the ball bounced wide.
Colne came into the match in fine form having started their league campaign impressively, and they showed considerable energy in the first half as they consistently pressed their hosts.
Advances into the final third were rare, although the visitors almost took the lead seven minutes before half-time as some fine one-touch play eventually resulted in a chance for substitute Sam O’Halleron, who stabbed a shot goalwards only for Myles Boney to superbly keep it out with his foot.
Burton also used his legs to deny Hindle before the break as the first half ended goalless in blustery conditions at 1st Cloud Arena.
Briggs had been introduced from the bench during the first 45 minutes in place of the unfortunate Wade, who was forced off with an injury.
He slotted into Shields’ five-man defence, but it was to be at the other end that he would make his most vital contribution.
That was not before two half-chances for Hindle to break the deadlock in the early stages of the second half, with a cross by Kempster hitting him and going wide before a strike from 25 yards by the frontman went wide.
There was an element of fortune about the goal which would prove to be the winner, and it arrived on 54 minutes.
Gillies’ corner from the left lacked the power required to take it into the six-yard box but Briggs got to it first, turned and sent in what appeared to be a teasing low cross which evaded everyone before nestling in the corner of the net.
Shields were unable to press ahead with their advantage after that, with Colne able to mainly restrict the home side to efforts from distance.
Gillies had a strike deflected wide and Blair Adams also sent a shot past the post but the Reds remained in contention heading into the closing stages as they attempted to force a penalty shootout.
Boney saved confidently from Reece Webb-Foster and Anthony Williams before an even better stop denied Harry Winstanley deep into stoppage time as the goalkeeper dived to his right and held onto the effort superbly.
That sealed his fourth successive clean sheet as Shields’ progression to the first round of the competition was secured.
South Shields: Boney, Wade (Briggs 33), Adams, Shaw (c) (Morse 71), Baxter, Thompson, Verstraaten, McCamley, Hindle (Hodgson 83), Gillies, Kempster. Subs not used: Coombe, Croft, Turnbull, Jenkins.
Goal: Briggs (54).
Image: Kev Wilson.
South Shields welcome Colne to 1st Cloud Arena on Saturday as they aim to progress in the Buildbase FA Trophy.
The third qualifying round tie will be played in front of a sold out crowd of 300, with a live stream available to view by clicking here.
Shields know from experience that Colne are not a team to be taken lightly, with the Reds having bridged the one-division gap in an Emirates FA Cup game against the Mariners last season, drawing 0-0 in South Tyneside before prevailing 1-0 in the replay.
Joint manager Fenton is determined to ensure history will not repeat itself in Saturday’s match as Shields look to make progress in another competition, having already made their way to the first round of the FA Cup for the first time in their history.
He said: “Colne have got off to a strong start in their league campaign and have already progressed through one round of this competition.
“We know through bitter experience that they are going to be a tough team to play against and will no doubt cause us some problems, but we’re very confident on the back of three clean sheets in a row that we can deal well with anything they throw at us.
“We created plenty of good situations in Tuesday’s game against FC United of Manchester and we will be looking to be as creative but more clinical against Colne to hopefully get the correct result.”
Colne have former England goalkeeper Chris Kirkland among their coaching staff, while the newest recruit to their playing ranks is ex-Newcastle United favourite Ryan Taylor.
Shields go into the game with a number of doubts over players, with Darius Osei and Jordan Hunter both having missed out on Tuesday’s 1-0 win over FC United of Manchester with calf problems.
Nathan Lowe and Luke Daly remain on the treatment table with knee injuries, and Fenton believes Saturday’s game may prove to be an opportunity for players to stake a claim for a regular starting place.
He added: “There are a lot of tired legs within our squad, which was noticeable on Tuesday, and this may well be an opportunity to give some players who haven’t played as much recently some much-needed game-time.
“We’re confident enough in the squad of players we have assembled to say that whoever we put on the pitch will give a good account of themselves, represent the club in a really positive manner and perform well on the day.”
Kick-off in Saturday’s game is at 3pm and tickets are sold out.
A live stream is available to watch for £5 and can be accessed by clicking here.
Tickets for Saturday’s Buildbase FA Trophy tie between South Shields and Colne will go on sale from 9am on Tuesday, October 27.
The tickets will be sold over the phone only, with season ticket holders given between 9am and 5pm to enjoy a priority period. The number to call is 0191 454 7800.
Should any tickets be unsold, they will go on general sale over the phone from 9am on Wednesday.
Tickets are priced at £10 for adults, £8 for students and over-65s, and £3 for under-16s.